Yoga Mastery: 45 Essential Hacks For Ultimate Serenity
Though it’s believed to have started at the dawn of civilization, much of yoga’s origins or chronology are unknown. Many believe the practice is rooted in ancient India, but it has never been more relevant than today. With many of us living extra stressful lives, more people are turning to yoga for physical, spiritual, and mental well-being.
Whether you are a novice looking for valuable advice or a seasoned practitioner hoping to get more from your sessions, there is always room to improve your routine and get the most out of it. From sun salutations to proper hydration and mindful eating, we have valuable hacks that will help fuel your flow. Let’s all pranayama and pose our way to wellness with these 45 yoga hacks!
Reach for a tennis ball if you need a massage
Tennis balls aren’t just for playing tennis. It turns out that the tiny green things increase circulation, soften tight muscles, and reduce tension in the connective tissues and muscles. While using it on your feet doesn’t help with stretching, it loosens up plantar fascia.
It’s especially helpful for folks who struggle with lower back pain. The balls act like foam rollers that relax and loosen up muscles and relieve pain. Simply place the tennis ball under your buttocks, lower back, or upper thighs and apply pressure by lying on top of them.
Save on mat cleaners by going the DIY route
Anyone who’s into yoga knows that caring for your mat is a must. If you want your mat to stay fresh after every use, you need to clean it to remove sweat and dirt buildup. This also prolongs your yoga mat’s life and keeps it grippy.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot of money on cleaners because you can make one from ingredients easily found in your kitchen. All you need is filtered water, vinegar, tea tree oil, and a few drops of antibacterial essential oils of your choice, such as lemongrass.
Extra grip with a towel
If you practice yoga regularly, you’re familiar with the annoying tendency of mats getting slippery because of sweat. Aside from being frustrating, it’s also dangerous because it can lead to injuries. It’s difficult to remain stable when your mat keeps slipping.
A few of the things you can do to make the mat slip-free are to wear cotton socks and gloves or use liquid chalk to enhance your grip. Another popular hack is to put a towel on your mat. This will make it easier to stabilize your palms on the mat.
Hydrate with lemon, cucumber, and mint
We’ve been told that drinking at least 8 glasses of water is necessary for optimal health. However, there’s more to it than just drinking plain water. If you’re doing yoga, especially, or just doing something physically intensive, you need a little more. You also need to eat the right food with high water content.
Try making cucumber, lemon, and mint water. This is as simple as thinly slicing cucumber and lemon and putting some fresh peppermint or spearmint leaves. Doing this not only adds flavor to your water but also aids in replenishing your body, flushes toxins out, and improves digestion.
Lean on yoga blocks
Also called bricks, yoga blocks are the most popular props in the practice and reasonably so. They can intensify or modify poses easily. You can greatly enhance your sessions with this versatile tool, so make the best use of it.
Placing blocks under your hands and feet will give you stability when doing headstands or handstands and allow you to practice poses accurately by correcting misalignment. Additionally, they are valuable tools when extending your body’s length. Blocks are essential for support.
Use straps for better flexibility
As humble as it may look, the yoga strap is really valuable for yogis. Like most props used in the practice, it becomes an extension of your limbs and is most frequently used to reach further and do challenging poses.
Who is it ideal for? Everyone who practices yoga! If you’re a beginner, you won’t strain to get into various positions until your body gets more comfortable. Experienced practitioners also use it for proper alignment and to increase their range of motion.
Have some snacks before doing yoga
Mindful eating is an integral component of practicing yoga. How else can you benefit from your poses and salutations if you’re always grabbing take-out and eating in front of your screen? It’s very essential that you consider the benefits or lack thereof of the food you eat.
Before yoga, it’s important to eat snacks that are easily digestible. Simple carbs with small amounts of fat, fiber, and protein are essential. Fruits and nuts also help you feel energized. Eat at least 45 minutes before your session to make it a smooth and pleasant one.
Munch on proteins post-session
You’ll want to refuel after a session of yoga to help restore your energy levels and repair muscle tissues. Generally, it is recommended to eat a meal within an hour after a session. But you can’t just eat anything! The ideal meal should be a balance of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Wondering what to eat? A few favorites of avid practitioners are smoothies made from peanut butter and fruits, Greek yogurt and fruits, protein bars, eggs, avocado toast and fruits, and oatmeal with cinnamon, blueberries, and almonds. Who said healthy food can’t be yummy?
Say no to foot odor
When bacteria on your feet, socks, and shoes mix with sweat, the result is foot odor. Intense physical activities such as yoga cause sweating, which leads to stinky feet. Ensuring that your feet are dry is key in preventing odor. But that’s easier said than done when practicing yoga.
Fortunately, there is a safe and cost-effective way to avoid stinky feet. By simply sprinkling baking soda in your shoes, you won’t have to be embarrassed about people turning around and looking at you the moment you enter the yoga studio!
Make a yoga mat bag instead of buying one
Yoga props and gear can cost you money, and if you have a tight budget, it can be difficult to afford even a yoga bag. But fret not because you can always make one with materials you know will last a long time. There are numerous easy-to-sew patterns available online.
Most of them require materials you already have at home and basic sewing skills. Nothing too complicated. If you have an old T-shirt or a pair of jeans you no longer wear or need, you can repurpose them into a fashionable yoga mat bag.
Remind yourself to breathe
When talking about exercise and wellness, most folks focus on areas they can easily quantify, such as the numbers on the scale or how long they exercise. They often forget one important thing, stress levels. Managing and reducing stress is critical to staying healthy.
This is often easier said than done, but a quick and easy trick is doing deep breathing exercises. Make good use of your phone and set periodic reminders so you know when to pause and practice deep breathing. Trust us, it will make a difference.
Have a quiet space
Meditation has numerous benefits, including reduced anxiety and stress, improved focus, and better mental and physical health. Although you can meditate anytime and anywhere, you’ll have greater benefits if you have a quiet space at home specifically for that purpose.
When you have a dedicated meditation space, distractions and interruptions during your sessions are kept to a minimum. You can design or decorate it according to your taste. Furthermore, when you meditate in the same space daily, it will be easier to stick to your practice.
Relax with the help of essential oils
Sometimes, life can be so stressful, so we often find ourselves looking for ways to remedy that. Aside from yoga poses and deep breathing, essential oils can also help manage stress levels and make you calm. Aromatherapy, or the practice of inhaling essential oil scents, promotes well-being and health.
Aromatherapy can be integrated into yoga by using calming scents during your sessions. A few of the recommended ones are lavender which creates a calming effect because of its anti-anxiety properties, and orange, which balances your mood. There are numerous essential oils available, so pick a few and enjoy!
Get tips from online yoga communities
Community is essential for humanity. Remember what they say about no man being an island? The same thing applies to yoga. Being part of a group of like-minded people is quite beneficial. These communities really come through when you need tips and advice.
Being part of a community will give you a sense of connection, make you feel less alone, and help you grow. You can share tools and pick up recommendations and encouragement from others. Also, you might get to know people who eventually become your besties or even partners.
Track your progress with a journal
Journaling, regardless of whether you’re practicing yoga or not, can be very helpful. It’s a wonderful tool for self-reflection. You will steadily move towards your goals by reflecting on your feelings and thoughts before, after, and while you are practicing.
It will be easier to see exactly how far you’ve come and notice the changes and the growth that has happened over time. Yoga can be challenging, but by writing your thoughts and experiences, you can reflect and see how to overcome them.
Warm up before your sessions
We’ve been told time and again to warm up before doing any physical activity, and do we listen? Well, most of us try to. So, what’s all the brouhaha about warming up? It elevates your heart rate and enhances circulation, guaranteeing increased oxygen delivery to your muscles.
If you just dive right in, there’s a big chance that your muscles are stiff and cold, and this can result in injuries. Regulars say it’s best to warm up for at least 10 minutes or until your heart rate is elevated and your skin is warm to the touch before starting your session.
Life and work can get so busy that sometimes you fail to notice that half of the day has gone by and you haven’t had a sip of water. Getting enough water is crucial for a myriad of reasons. It lubricates joints, regulates body temperature, and ensures the proper functioning of the body’s organs.
Regardless of whether you’re having a hectic day or not, it’s best not to rely on your memory alone to drink water. You can set up reminders on your phone to ensure you stay hydrated. When you’re well-hydrated, you’ll sleep better, and your mood will be improved.
Take advantage of free online classes
Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, we are unable to make it to our yoga class. However, if you can, there’s no reason to miss a session, even if you’re at home. The secret? Online yoga classes. There are numerous free yoga classes online.
Yes, we said free, so you don’t need to worry about spending lots of money for a class or two. A search on YouTube will give you hundreds of results. There is no excuse not to pose and meditate your way to a healthier and more balanced you!
Get inspiration through podcasts
Yoga is an ancient practice with origins that can be traced more than 5,000 years ago in Northern India. It is complex, with roots in Indian philosophy. To know more and increase your appreciation for the practice, you can always turn to podcasts. Yes, there are countless free yoga podcasts you can listen to.
Whether you are a certified yogi or just starting a journey to align your chakra, you will get inspiration, information, and motivation from other people who are on the same journey of increasing flexibility and staying healthy mentally and emotionally.
Use eco-friendly gear
Sustainability is a hot topic nowadays. In an age when the results of global warming are apparent, people are paying more attention to the effects of what they do, use, and buy on Mother Earth. This also affects the yoga community. Hence, the advocacy for eco-friendly gear.
They may not be the cheapest gear in the market, but Mother Earth will thank you for your choice. Eco-friendly mats are of the highest quality and are usually made using sustainable materials. They don’t contain dangerous chemicals, which other mats might.
Start your day right
People worldwide begin their days differently but with a single intention; to start it on the right foot so the rest of their day will be as peaceful and successful as possible. Nobody gets up in the morning to argue with others and be in a bad mood.
You can start your day right with sun salutations to wake your body up, improve your mental awareness, kick-start your metabolism, and reduce morning sluggishness. Practice it for a week, and you will notice a huge difference in your mornings.
Immerse yourself in the practice with yoga retreats
You can easily practice yoga in your home or at the beach, so why the need for yoga retreats? Is a yoga retreat a worthy investment? The answer is a resounding YES. Nowadays, people can hardly let go of their laptops or phones. Everyone is always busy scrolling, commenting, and posting videos and photos.
A yoga retreat will allow you to disconnect from all the noise and give you a space for that much-needed introspection. With a serene ambiance, you’ll be able to look inward and reflect on the things that have been going on in your life. Most retreats also come with sessions to deepen your knowledge.
Cleaning yoga clothes the right way
What? Putting your workout clothes in the freezer before washing them? Does that make any sense? It turns out that doing so gets rid of bacteria. However, we’re not saying that you should just chuck your sweaty clothes in the freezer.
You should let them dry first and put them in a plastic bag before putting them in the freezer. When you’re ready to wash your clothes, take them out of the freezer and soak them in a mixture of white vinegar and water before putting them in the machine.
Maintain hygiene by regularly cleaning your gear
Committing to regular yoga sessions also involves cleaning your gear regularly. Most people put cleaning their yoga mat on the back burner, which can lead to a buildup of germs. Luckily, keeping your gear germ-free doesn’t take long and requires only a few steps.
Weekly cleaning is necessary for those who practice yoga regularly. However, if you struggle with skin allergies, you should clean your mat after every use. Refrain from using sprays that contain harsh chemicals because they can degrade the mat and affect your skin.
Use layers to your advantage
Comfort is of paramount importance when practicing yoga as it allows you to do your movements fluidly. You want to choose clothes made with breathable and moisture-wicking materials. However, when you’re practicing in a cooler environment, you’ll need to layer up.
A light layer over your workout top will give you the protection you need from the elements. If necessary, wear a lightweight jacket or sweater. While some people may choose to practice barefoot, you might want to wear socks or shoes that give you adequate support and grip.
Yoga props can be expensive, and not everyone has spare money to replace old or ruined equipment. The good news is you don’t have to fork out money because you can use things you already have at home. Improvisation comes in really handy.
For example, a yoga strap can be easily replaced by a towel, scarf, or belt as long as there is no fastening required. If you’re using the block to support your back or hip, you can substitute it with a large book.
Yoga whenever, wherever
The opportunity and inspiration for yoga sessions might present itself when you least expect it, so make sure you keep a spare mat in your car to take advantage of the situation, whether you’re at the park, in the office, or at the beach.
Portable yoga mats are widely available now, so there’s no excuse not to practice yoga on the go. If they are out of your budget, you can always opt for regular yoga mats, which you can roll and easily store in your car.
Practice with music in your ears
A feel-good playlist can enhance any class, be it online or in the studio. A lot of people like to get lost in musical vibrations while in a restorative class, and music can help you shut the door on the world and surrender to the poses and movement.
Many instructors swear by a curated playlist to put you in the mood. Music has the power to balance and moderate emotions, so it would be really wrong not to use it to your advantage. The key is to pick music that calms you without making you want to sleep.
Get better sleep with gentle meditation
Yoga is one of the many natural recommendations for people who have problems falling asleep because it helps relax the mind and body. If you’ve been losing sleep and are looking for a bedtime routine for better sleep, yoga might be the solution.
Incorporate deep breathing and meditation into your bedtime routine with a healthy dose of slow deep stretching, and you’ll notice a huge difference in your quality of sleep. A few yoga poses recommended to help in deeper sleep are the child’s and corpse pose and the supine spinal twist.
Get a buddy to help with accountability
Having a yoga buddy is beneficial in many ways. Whether you are an expert or a beginner, sometimes you need an extra push to help you not flake from your routine. A buddy will help you stay committed, especially when the pull of your warm bed on a rainy Saturday morning is irresistible.
Needless to say, it’s very boring to practice yoga in front of your computer. A yoga buddy will make it deeper and more enjoyable. You’ll also have someone to cheer you up when you’re down in the dumps and give you that much-needed boost.
Mindful eating is a must
Practicing yoga and being mindful extends to many facets of life, including diet and nutrition. You need to watch the kind of food you eat. Contrary to what most people think, this has nothing to do with calories or fat. Instead, it focuses on the awareness of food and the eating experience itself.
Incorporating it into your life is also more than just eating slower. All your senses must be engaged in the experience so you can have a conscious relationship with your food. By eating sans distractions, you will be attuned to your hunger and fullness cues, so you avoid overeating.
Make the most out of yoga apps
Leveling up your practice can be made easier with the help of yoga apps that can help you practice anytime and anywhere. The number of yoga apps available for download can easily rival the number of studios in any metropolis. Some are free, while others require a subscription.
There are apps for personalized programs, beginners, daily practice, fitness goals, experienced practitioners, mindfulness, and many more. Like with many other fitness apps out there, the choices are endless, so make sure to choose the app that best fits your needs and your budget.
Relax with tea after your session
Yoga and tea is a match made in heaven. You can ask any yogi, and they will tell you the same thing. On its own, a warm cup of tea is already delightful. But did you know that it can enhance your practice, especially when taken after an intense session?
Although there’s no official connection between the two, many people have discovered the joys and benefits of blending them. Drinking a cup of calming tea after a session helps you transition to your daily routine, and drinking an energizing tea before a session helps you focus.
Stay motivated through challenges
If you’ve never participated in a yoga challenge, this is your sign to finally do it! In-person and online yoga challenges can result in positive transformations. A few of the benefits are less anxiety, more connection, the achievement of nutritional goals, and the establishment of a regular yoga routine.
How do you choose a yoga challenge? This depends largely on the goal you want to achieve and the time you can dedicate to it. If you’re realistic and honest with yourself, you can complete the challenge motivated to try more and perhaps even learn a new pose or two!
Improve your practice by recording your sessions
Whether you are a yoga teacher or student, recording your sessions will be beneficial for your practice. There are many things to be discovered when listening to and watching your classes that will help you grow as a yoga practitioner.
Filming your practice helps track the progress you’ve made over time. It will allow you to see how far you’ve come since you started, and when you’re looking to improve your technique or learn new poses, this can be incredibly helpful.
Yoga workshops? Are they necessary? Thousands of practitioners ask the same question, and the answer is YES. Yes, they will cost you money, but you’ll get much more in return. Whether you’re a beginner only starting to meditate or attempting handstands, workshops have a specific focus.
They deepen your understanding of the yoga culture and answer the myriad of questions you may have. Additionally, they are fun and an excellent way to spend an afternoon or a weekend. The money and the time you spend on workshops is an investment in yourself.
Pranayama your way to wellness
Pranayama, or the ancient practice of controlling one’s breath, offers many benefits. It has been proven to reduce cigarette cravings, improve lung function, improve the quality of sleep, decrease stress, increase mindfulness, and reduce high blood pressure. Yeap, all that in one!
Slow deep breathing reduces stress, relaxes the mind, and strengthens the connection between the body and mind. Research has proven that pranayama enhances mindfulness and relaxation, thereby supporting physical health. If you haven’t tried it before, there’s no better time to start than now.
Achieve your goals with a vision board
We’ve all heard the term vision board before, but what is it exactly? Vision boards are a collection of images that represent what you want to achieve. It’s a tangible reminder of your intentions and a source of motivation and aspiration.
With a vision board, you can increase your self-awareness, see your goals in a better light, promote self-reflection, and get inspiration to keep reaching for the things you want, whatever they may be. Research says vision boards work because our brains put more value on visual imagery compared to other stimuli.
Information is key
You can further immerse yourself in yoga not just by attending sessions and workshops but also by reading more about it. There are eight popular styles of yoga and thousands of books about the ancient practice. Even if you read every day for a year, you’ll never run out of material.
The Internet has plenty of information about the must-read books, but you can also ask your teacher or someone you trust and admire for their recommendations. People who have been practicing for some time will have plenty of information to share.
End each session with gratitude
At the end of yoga sessions, you’ll hear the familiar word, “Namaste.” Why do people say that? Namaste translates directly to “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.” Saying it aloud symbolizes appreciation for the teacher and students.
Showing appreciation for the things that you deem meaningful or valuable in life can help boost your mood, brighten your day, foster stronger relationships, change your outlook, and make you feel positive. This may sound cheesy to some, but research backs its benefits.
Commune with nature whenever possible
We don’t know about you, but whenever we get the chance, we spend time outdoors. Practicing yoga outdoors offers countless benefits. What can be better than greeting the morning sun with the sound of the waves in your ear and birds singing in the distance?
Practicing outside also means getting your daily dose of Vitamin D, pumping fresh air into your lungs, improving your concentration, and improving your balance and flexibility. Compare how you feel when you practice in the studio and outdoors, and you’ll notice a huge difference.
Show up even if you don’t feel like it
Even if you love yoga, you can’t help but admit that there are times when you don’t feel like getting out of your bed and going to the studio. Whether you practice at home or with a group, there are times when you just don’t feel like showing up.
Showing up even when you don’t feel like it comes with rewards. If you want to see progress, you have to be consistent. The more you stick to your routine, the higher the chances of you stepping on the mat without mental debate.
Repurpose old yoga mats
Just because your yoga mat has seen better days doesn’t mean off to the bin it should go. It can still be useful, and since we advocate for upcycling old things instead of throwing them away, we have a few ideas for your old mat.
Some of the wonderful things you can make from your mat are coasters, shelf liners, placemats for pet bowls, napkin rings, knee pads, jar openers, and door mats. All you need is a reliable pair of scissors and creativity, and you’re on your way to repurposing!
Use a timer for your poses
Is a timer really necessary? Yes, because without it, you’ll be distracted trying to determine how long you’ve been doing the pose. Plan to spend at least 5 minutes in the pose once you have an established practice. However, if you’re just starting, aim for less.
Timers are particularly helpful when practicing meditative yoga. It’s difficult to be in the moment and the zone when you’re always looking at the clock. Whether you’re into meditative or a more active form of yoga, there’s a timer that fits your needs.
Celebrate your wins
Celebrate your progress, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. Even small wins deserve recognition, especially if you have been pushing yourself and trying your hardest. Acknowledging your achievements will motivate you to do more. This also applies to other facets of life outside of yoga.
Diminishing your progress has the power to diminish your desire to pursue the practice further, and nobody wants to go down that road. Additionally, it is not beneficial to compare yourself to someone else because you may not have the same strength or body type. So, appreciate and be kind to yourself.