The most obvious (and probably easiest) thing to observe is what happens in your body, physically. How do your muscles feel today? How does your range of motion compare to yesterday’s? Notice these physical sensations and let them guide your decisions throughout your class.
Maybe you rocked it yesterday and are feeling a little tired today. Or maybe you want to focus on even breathing because you caught yourself holding your breath in both sets of triangle. Carry this physical awareness with you out of the studio. Pay attention to what your body wants before and after a class – water, food, sleep.
Evaluate how you feel, mentally and emotionally. Why should we consider this? Because even when you’re not making leaps and bounds in your physical practice, yoga IS creating change. We just don’t always acknowledge it. Yes, it’s hard physical work, but it’s usually hard mental focus too. (It’s called a work-out for a reason. What is it allowing you to work out?)
Observe how your regular practice affects your interactions with others. This is one aspect of the ‘life’ part of our practice. You may find that you’re less likely to scream at the driver cutting you off on 75 because you’re still in your post-yoga “glow” state. What we practice in the yoga room we take into the world with us. Learning to find your focus and regulate your breath during class can help you remain calm with colleagues and bosses under deadlines and other similarly stressful situations.
By being observant and becoming sensitive to our own needs as we progress, we can begin to make small adjustments over time. Continually taking baby steps is how we create long-term change, whether to our physical postures or to our daily habits.