Mark Stephens’ Top 10 Yoga Tips

Posted by – September 30, 2016
Categories: Fitness & Sports Guest Post



  1. There is a wide world of yoga arising from many different streams of thought and practice; be wary of the idea that it’s just this or that.
  2. Yoga should feel good, especially the next day. It’s not about force but exploration, appreciation, acceptance, and openness to gradual change. This is santosa, or contentment.
  3. Breathing is the most important part of the asana (postural) practice. Allow the asanas and transitions to find expression around and through the integrity of the breath rather than compromising the breath for a pose. This is pranayama, breath control and liberation.
  4. Explore a balance of effort and ease, noticing where you work, how you work, where you hold unncessary tension, and what tends to be asleep. Wake up everywhere as quietly as you might.
  5. In balancing effort and ease, try to practice in a way that feels like you’re going in there in deeply significant ways in order to most fully open to the transformative effects of the practice. This is tapas.
  6. The mind tends to follow the eyes. Explore keeping your gaze focused yet soft. While some guru-based teachings insist on universally prescribed gazing points, the important thing is to focus in a way that feel comfortable to you, not to someone else. This is dristana.
  7. In balancing effort and ease, explore “playing the edge” in each asana: go a bit beyond where you feel a sense of “aha,” back away from “uh-uh,” and breath in that place to create more space and a deeper release of tension.
  8. Open to an expanded idea of your “core” that goes far beyond your abs to the core of your being. And when moving from your abdominal core, never bear down with what is called uddiyana bandha (this bandha is part of some pranayama practices, not asana practices—period.)
  9. Rest as you please, and modify postures to make them simpler and more accessible as you please.
  10. Keep tuning into the best yoga teacher you will ever have, the one dancing in your heart to the rhythm of the breath.


Tags: Mark Stephens Yoga
About the Author

Practicing yoga for over 20 years and teaching since 1996, author Mark Stephens conducts classes, yoga teacher trainings, and retreats worldwide. The owner of Santa Cruz Yoga, he lives and teaches in his native town of Santa Cruz, California. Mark Stephens is the author of Teaching Yoga (2010), Yoga Sequencing (2012), Yoga Adjustments (2014), and The Mark Stephens Yoga Sequencing Deck (2016).