Firstly, why would I suggest stepping out of a yoga comfort zone? Isn’t yoga meant to be a time to relax, a comfortable way of nurturing your mind, body and soul?
Yes, yoga can be all of those things and it is a wonderful way of supporting our wellbeing. But, yoga can also be an incredibly effective tool that we can use to grow and transform. Transformation can happen when we challenge our mental boundaries by stepping outside of what we are comfortable with. Yoga gives us plenty of opportunity to do just that.
So if you are feeling pretty comfortable with your practice, why not try one (or all) of these suggestions, even if it’s just for one class!
1. Go Back To Stage One
If you are an experienced yogi, chances are you stick to the more advanced variations of poses your teacher offers. I think it’s a great idea to go back to the first stage of a pose every now and then and really tune inwards. Without as much physical effort, you may start to detect some subtle differences in the way your mind works, the way your breath flows and the way your body feels in the pose. Perhaps even increasing your experience of yoga in that moment.
2. Embrace The Poses You Don’t Like
It’s really our mind that likes or doesn’t like a pose. More specifically, it’s the ego. We like what we are good at and we don’t like what we are not so good at.
So what would happen if you embrace the poses you don’t like and accept where you are at with them? You might find that this new approach can actually lead you to a deeper experience, both physically and mentally. I’m one of the few people around that seem to love Warrior 3. I love it now because I embraced the leg wobbles, didn’t worry how high my back leg was and even tried smiling. Before I knew it, I was making the shape of a T and I no longer found the need to clench my jaw and swear under my breath!
3. Sit Somewhere Different In The Room
If you are anything like me (I make a beeline for the front left corner of every class) then you will think this is a crazy suggestion, but you can actually change your whole experience of a class by sitting in a different space. You don’t need to do this every class, in fact by all means return to the comfort of your favorite (front left) corner whenever you like, but do so with awareness and a sense of non-attachment to that space and try to mix it up once in a while.
4. Try A Class With A New Teacher
It’s a strange feeling when you turn up to class and find that your teacher is away and you have a sub! In the same way we get attached to our favorite spot in class, we can also get attached to our favorite teacher. There are so many benefits to practicing with the same person, but every yoga teacher has the potential to add something valuable to your yoga so it’s not a bad idea once in a while, to learn something from someone new.
5. Try A New Style Of Yoga
This is an interesting one, particularly for those of us (ahem) that like to stick with the same style. There are so many styles of yoga, and all of them have amazing benefits that we can only learn through doing. For example, if you practice Vinyasa or Power Yoga, you will be comfortable with a strong and dynamic class, so why not challenge yourself and see how you feel during a Yin or a Restorative Class. Or, if you have never experienced chanting during a class before, perhaps you could try a Kirtan evening or a Kundalini inspired class. It might not be your thing forever but it will give you a new chance to learn more about this beautiful life science called yoga.