"How can I take my yoga practice to the next level? I've been doing yoga for a year now and I love it. My gym only offers "Hatha" classes but I feel like I'm not progressing anymore." Ulrike B.
This is such a wonderful question that I often think about myself. Sometimes we all get so comfortable in our own practice that it almost becomes routine. I definitely think it’s important to spice it up and keep it fresh, so I’m glad you’re looking to do the same thing!
1. Develop A Home Practice
As I mentioned in a recent post, cultivating a home practice is, for many, a very difficult task. It’s hard. But I promise that once you begin to commit yourself to developing your own organic practice, your love for yoga will grow exponentially. Take time to be on your mat on your own, and work on the tips I list below.
2. Hold Your Poses Longer
Take time with your poses. Notice. How do they make you feel? Are they difficult or easy? How will a minor adjustment in your stance or your breath affect the pose? Spending a few extra moments in each posture will allow you to observe, and will also build more strength and stamina.
3. Close Your Eyes
Keeping your eyes closed as you practice provides a really interesting and beautiful experience. Not only does it make everything much more difficult (especially balancing poses), it also allows you to look inward and pay more attention to how you feel.
4. Practice Those Poses You Hate
Everyone has a pose or two that he or she tries to avoid, especially at home when your mat is a blank canvas. Try to write down any poses that aren’t necessarily your favorite. Think about why you don’t enjoy them very much. Then try to brainstorm how you might be able to incorporate them into your practice and find enjoyment and ease within them. Become committed to taking time with these postures and exploring them. Chances are, after a while, that pose you hated may become a pose you don’t mind!
Taking your practice to the next level most certainly takes place off the mat as well. Be sure to take enough rest when your body is telling you you need it. Get a massage. Go for a walk or a hike. Breathe! While much of the ability to advance physically happens on your mat, you must be sure that you have the mental and emotional capacity to grow as well!