While each tradition or contemporary adaptation of yoga favors some aspects over others, there are some fundamental principles to maximize its benefits, avoid injury, and incorporate a meditative and spiritual work in the practice of yoga poses. These recommendations are derived from classic yoga (hatha and its extended and spiritual version, the raja yoga) and can be applied to most current styles of yoga that have a physical component.
Breathing in Yoga poses is an inseparable component.
The conscious management of breathing is a fundamental part of the practice of hatha yoga. Breathing should be deep and slow. In hatha vinyasa practices, inhalation, retention and exhalation are coordinated with each movement, an example is the sun salutations. In the practice of asanas, which are slower and easy, usually stretching is accompanied with inhalation for opening chest and exhalation helps deepen yoga poses while asanas accompany recollection and those that induce more meditative states. Synchronize breathing with your practice make use of it to calm and focus the mind.
Learn to feel your body and do not force!
Make each yoga pose as best as you can, but in moderation. Yoga asanas should not cause pain, although working muscles, joints, or stretching is done. You should feel the effort, but without pain. With a conscious exercise, with controlled movements, and with attention to every movement, the body will naturally level and the work will be done without causing damage. It is always essential to ask for help if you feel any discomfort or you use your intuition. If something does not feel quite right, do not pursue it. Rest if you must and relax between one yoga pose and another.
Meditate and see that your mind will not disperse.
In yoga, it requires you to be comfortable and stable to hold the positions, but inside you will be very alert having large flow of vital energy. It draws attention to the movements, breathing, to each body part you are working. During hatha yoga classes, it is recommended that you bring your attention to the third eye or the heart chakra during practice and continually repeat your personal mantra, which can always be replaced by the mantra Om.
Each yoga posture has three stages and to reach it, you must do it with conscious movements; avoid doing it in a mechanical way and think that the movements are also part of the practice.
Yoga is like a dance that is done gracefully when it is slow and in control. While in the position, do as far as possible, which implies an effort, but never force your body. For this, you see that there is ‘trembling’ and no force in maintaining the yoga pose. The yoga poses should be relaxed but firms. Put pressure as far as your body allows, expanding the limits carefully in each practice. On leaving them, do it gently.
Postures seek balance in all aspects.
Each posture has a contra-pose that balances the body to the opposite side. For example, when you do a twist, it is good to counter gently toward the opposite side. Similarly, it is important to work both sides for balancing both sides of the body, so that each movement is practiced either side. The balance is also evident that you should seek to respect the limits of the body and try to always have positive thoughts for a harmonious mind.
The yogic science focuses on the health and vitality of the spine.
A fundamental part of yoga exercises is to observe the position of the spine to ensure that it is straight in certain positions and to facilitate the movement of prana and it is being protected in exercises that strengthen and give flexibility. Body posture or alignment look for balance, stability and strength, both in the mind and in the real life. Similarly, yoga seeks flow in line with body movements, so in asanas there is soft, round and harmonious movements.
Yoga is an exercise of self-observation.
Therefore, we are no longer vulnerable to stimuli from the outside world, collect the senses and concentrate in our bodies and in our minds. You must feel what happens in your body, relax the parties with unnecessary stress, feel how your body responds through feelings and what you are communicating. The nonjudgmental also notes what happens in your mind and try to bring attention back to the present moment if absent. The mind is so powerful that it uses to project itself in every posture and will help the body to continue this objective.
Some traditions of yoga such as Satyananda motivates you to put intention into your practice. For example, direct all the energy toward a goal you want to achieve, or offer it to a person, something transcendent life or what you believe, or an inner change you are looking for. If the teacher does not, you can do on your own to begin. It is a nice way to channel and collect your work. Do not forget to thank your body and yourself at the end of the commitment and effort for making correct yoga poses.