You have been practicing long enough to know and love your Warriors. Perhaps you knock out an occasional arm balance and defy gravity for a few breaths. Maybe you are new to yoga, but it really resonates with you and you are curious about how to get the most out of your practice.

Yoga in itself is satisfying, you feel better, you are nicer to everyone around you for a while, you have at least a moment of calm in the middle of your fabulously busy life, AND you step off your mat knowing you have done something good for yourself. This sweetness might be about right for you or you may want to delve a little deeper. With a few changes, a good yoga practice can become a great yoga practice.

  1. Show Up Consistently. Part of having a great yoga experience is rolling out your mat and deciding that NOW is the time for yoga. This is easier with scheduling ahead of time. Choose your next great yoga experience here.
  2. Bring Meaning to Your Yoga. Set an intention. Make it about something, maybe even something more than yourself. Dedicate your practice to someone. Know that when you practice you are doing something good for others and the world around you. When you are doing yoga for a higher purpose it is more rewarding and has the benefit of helping you be more consistent (see #1).
  3. Make it a Moving Meditation. Awareness is what sets yoga apart from other disciplines. You can plan your vacation while you are on a treadmill, but you are completely in the moment when you are trying not to fall on your face as you balance on one leg or go upside down. As you warm up, be aware that you are breathing as you breathe, aware that you are stepping your foot forward as you step it forward. This awareness brings you right into the present moment—THE ONLY THING THAT IS REAL. Everything else is either a memory or something we imagine. Many yogis have an epiphany on their mat as they realize they have spent most of their lives in the past or worrying about the future. Years from now, you will look back and want to say that you were THERE.
  4. Practice in Inspiring Places with Inspiring People. Take your practice outdoors. Find a studio or instructor that pushes you to explore the edges of your comfort zone. This may mean trying things you would normally shy away from. It may look like being able to sit still with yourself if you know you revel in distraction. It might mean making your practice more than just physical or connecting with people that you draw energy from.
  5. Take Your Practice Off the Mat. Practice your yoga when someone cuts you off in traffic. Take a deep breath when someone you know says something insensitive without thinking. Choose a positive outlook instead of putting more negativity into the world. While in some circles it might be a huge accomplishment to get your leg back behind your head, what will that translate to when life throws a challenge your way?

Greatness is something we all possess. Yoga helps us connect with that greatness, helps lift the fog that clouds our perspective, helps us take on the challenges that scare us. Yoga helps us fall in love with the life that we are living. What could be greater?

by Denise Antonini, MS, LPC, RYT
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Dynamic, soulful, and empowering, Denise pours inspiration and creativity into her teachings, using her expertise in health psychology to elevate an ancient practice to a state-of-the-art yoga experience. Yoga is her art of movement, mindfulness, her art of attention, and awareness, her art of intention. At Stanford University Denise studied psychology and the mind-body connection graduating with honors. At Chicago Medical School her thesis and doctoral work in clinical psychology focused on maintaining health, improving quality of life and achieving wellness. As a therapist, consultant and professor she has helped people create the life they want to be living. As a yoga instructor her invigorating, fluid yoga sequences challenge the body helping students to disconnect from the busyness of day-to-day life– tuning in to their intuition by stabilizing the mind with the breath. Denise effortlessly guides anyone who comes to the mat to a place of meditative calm–finding the perfection of the present moment.

Denise and her husband Eric are the owners and co-founders of You and the Mat, an independent yoga studio and gallery for yoga inspired art. Together they strive to make yoga accessible to students, instructors, and the community through their classes, art and music events, Master Teacher and Support Local Workshop Series. Celebrating yoga as a fusion of art forms, they support artists, musicians, and creatives who share their vision.