Yoga practice is just that, a practice. It is a clever combination of movement, breath and stillness to bring out the best and the worst in us and to illuminate aspects of ourselves that we can fine tune to make our life smoother, more gracious and ultimately more joyful.
Here are my tips for getting the most out of your yoga practice.
1) Don’t have a hidden agenda. Try not to start your class with an agenda of how it should be. Try to put your expectations to one side. Maybe you want a power class and the teacher who is relieving is very slow and gentle. Maybe you don’t want to do crow or arm balances. What you get given in the class/practice is a gift. If you set up expectations of how it should be then you will be disappointed. Often what we receive is the very thing we need anyway.
2) Enjoy the process. Do you have a goal for your yoga? Do you want to be fitter, stronger, more flexible, able to do drop-backs? If you are only interested in the outcome then you will be missing the gift and the whole point of the practice which is not to get somewhere but to accept who we are and where we are right now. This is the same in life, enjoy the steps to the outcome, set a vision but don’t make it all about the accomplishment.
3) Stop the struggle. If you are pushing and shoving in a pose trying to touch your toes or get into a more advanced position you are not feeling. If you are not feeling you are probably not connected to what you are doing. If you are not connected to what you are doing you are opening yourself up for injury and suffering. Yoga is a process of connection. It connects you back to yourself. If you are struggling in your poses or in your life it may be time to just soften a little bit. If you are constantly pushing maybe it is time for you to take yourself out of the picture (your desires) and let the pose unfold for itself.
4) Be grateful. If you are able to do yoga then you are privileged. You are one of the small percentage of the population that has the time/money/resources/desire to improve,grow and learn. Don’t cloud that up with first world problems of bad classes, slipping yoga mats or not being able to do a pose. Always remember the gift you have been given.
5) Set an intention. Each practice is a chance for you to get real. What is it that needs to change in your life? What do you avoid or what are behaviors are not longer serving you? How can you use your practice to wake up to what and who you are? Every time you practice set an intention to be the person you need to be today.
Practicing yoga is a gift. How can you step out of the small and into the big picture to make every practice a transmission of grace, energy and love?