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Ten Secrets for Mastering Power Yoga

To really excel in your Power Yoga practice, you must be humble, have a positive attitude, and discover your connection with the energy you call life. Anyone can practice Power Yoga, have a great time in the process, and enjoy the many benefits of a regular practice. But if you want to gain the most from Power Yoga and savor the true essence of this ancient and magical system, you need to keep a few key words of wisdom in mind. Read and become wiser, grasshopper.

Be humble

Don't fight your Yoga practice: Don't try to control it, overcome it, or conquer it. You have to relax to find the connecting energy that runs through life. Humble yourself in the face of this powerful system and work with your Power Yoga, not against it. Take it slow and easy. Don't be competitive (with yourself or anyone else), and approach your practice with an open mind. Let your mind flow through your practice, and your body will follow. Respect the energy your body generates during practice and think of it as part of the energy of all life. Remembering this connection can make your practice more powerful — and more fulfilling.

Have patience

If you rush through your Power Yoga practice, don't expect to gain anything but a load of stress. Enough of your life is hectic and fast-paced; you don't need to add a stress-filled rush-rush Power Yoga practice to your schedule. Finishing first may be important in other aspects of your life, but your Power Yoga practice needs to be an exception to the norm.

Practice patience as you practice Yoga. Don't expect to accomplish everything the first day. If you practice regularly and moderately, your body responds more quickly than it does if you push it. If you practice patience and moderation, you succeed every time you sit down on your mat to enjoy a quality practice.

Practice with love and compassion

Focus your mind on peaceful, loving thoughts and embrace a compassionate outlook as you do your Yoga practice. Try to develop an attitude of love and compassion for the entire practice of Yoga. To gain the most from your practice, you really have to love to do it and be compassionate toward yourself. Don't force yourself to do your practice; wait until you want to do it, and then let it become your passion.

Power Yoga can be something very special — something that you look forward to and love. Think of every practice as a vacation. Use your practice as a means of developing love and compassion for everyone and everything that shares your planet.

Cross-train

Although Power Yoga is a complete fitness system, you can benefit by cross-training with other physical activities as well. If you want to succeed in Power Yoga, you need to practice non-Power Yoga activities, too. You can take long walks, dance, practice other forms of Yoga, participate in group sports, work in your garden, or incorporate any of your favorite physical activities into your regular fitness schedule. You don't have to practice Power Yoga every day without any breaks. Be balanced in your approach to fitness — enjoy your life and be as active as you can — and your Power Yoga will benefit. You'll look forward to your practice, have fewer injuries in your more active pursuits, and find ways to use your Yoga techniques in the other physical activities you enjoy.

Respect your limits

You have a unique body. Because everyone is put together a little differently, some folks have a harder time with certain activities than others. This truth carries over to practicing Power Yoga postures. No one is perfect at every Yoga posture, and you won't be, either. But don't let that get you down. Natural limitations are the reasons we use Yoga props and practice Yoga adjustments. Don't ever try to push yourself into doing a posture just because you think that you should be able to do it, or because that older woman beside you can do it. The true yogi or yogini knows his or her limits and works with those limits — not against them.

Listen to your body, and stop when it tells you to stop. Rest when it says it needs rest. Try to grow in your practice, but don't ever try to force your body into doing something that it doesn't want to do. An injury only adds to your physical limitations.

Set clear goals

Now, if your goal in practicing Power Yoga is just to relax and release a little stress and tension, that's fine. If your goal is to develop a lot of strength and flexibility, that's fine, too. But you need to be clear on what your goals are if you want to achieve them. If you want to practice at the highest level, you have to be clear about that goal, and you need to visualize yourself achieving it. As you practice, just keep telling yourself, "I know I can do this. I can accomplish this level of practice."

If you're practicing just to relax, keep that goal in mind, and remember not to allow yourself to become impatient with the pace or angry with yourself for not mastering a posture. When you practice with a specific goal in mind, your practice is more productive, directed, and beneficial in every way.

Visualize your success

Before you actually move into a Yoga posture, visualize yourself moving into the posture. When your mind flows into the posture this way, your body will follow. Positive visualization is a technique used by many great athletes, and it's a strong tool for Power Yoga students, as well.

Think positive thoughts and visualize yourself accomplishing what you're going to do before you actually do it. This process can benefit your Power Yoga practice as well as any other task you undertake in your daily life.

Relax and rest

If you want to succeed at building an effective Power Yoga practice, you have to have adequate rest. That means getting enough sleep and taking occasional breaks from your hectic schedule to slow down, enjoy a walk in the park, chat with a neighbor, read a book, or just stare at the world around you. Power Yoga can be a very powerful system, but you limit your body's ability to draw from that power if you limit its rest. Don't ever skip the relaxation exercise at the end of each workout; allow yourself at least 5 and as many as 30 minutes of rest in each deep relaxation session. Relax after each practice, enjoy a little recreation, and get plenty of sleep; that's an important prescription for building a successful Power Yoga practice.

Stoke your furnace with good nutrition

Okay, eating that sack of donuts won't kill you — today, at least. But you can get away with eating junk food for only so long. Yoga has its roots in nature, and part of succeeding in Power Yoga is becoming one with nature. A big part of being connected to nature is respecting your body. Regular Power Yoga practice demands a lot of your body, and if you want to develop — rather than deplete — your body's resources, you have to give it good fuel. By following a diet of healthy, natural food and large quantities of fresh, pure water, you help your body grow strong and healthy. The fact that you're practicing Power Yoga means that you want to have a healthy body. So don't fight your progress by crippling your body with bad food.

Never stop studying

You should always think about Power Yoga as a practice because, in reality, it isn't something that you ever finish finding out about — you never absorb everything there is to know about any aspect of Yoga. All yogis and yoginis remain students throughout their lives. And you can benefit from everything and everyone you encounter. Just as the ancient masters based the first Yoga practices on their observations of nature, so can you. You can discover gems by observing your friends, your dog, the stars, and the wind — everything that moves, breathes, or exists on this planet has some connection to the energy of Yoga. It's to your benefit to find these connections wherever you can.

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