4 Ways to Boost Your Yoga Practice
Like all daily self-care habits, a regular commitment to yoga can encourage discipline, both in mind and body. While your yoga routine can be beneficial in many ways, you may have not been practicing as often as you’d like due to COVID-19 restrictions. If you can’t attend regular classes and are feeling less passion for yoga these days, there are easy ways to spice things up. Try incorporating some tools, technology and techniques designed to help you stretch and grow.
Set an Intention
Committing to a weekly or monthly intention helps you build your yoga practice toward a goal. Try not to think of this goal as something you achieve— like crossing a finish line— but a state of mind you cultivate and sustain. For example, you can set a mental intention, like trying to feel more gratitude, or a physical intention, like working on crow pose.
Either way, you’ll want to start (if you haven’t already) a home practice to help you wrap your life around your intention. It’s a chance to flex your schedule as needed to stick to your regimen, plus you can work on form and function by streaming yoga classes. Not only is it extremely cost effective, but most streaming options also allow you to cherry-pick your classes, so you can look for opportunities to work on your intention from the comfort of your home every day. If you’re in the market for a device, just be sure to examine options to match a player with your criteria. You don’t want to invest in one that won’t work with your other equipment.
Let Go of Judgment and Comparison
This one is really tough— judgment and comparison are rampant in Western culture and society. However, if you constantly compare yourself to others, then your yoga practice will never feel good enough.
Watching yoga instructors on social media platforms like Instagram can be inspiring, but it can also elicit feelings of inferiority. Remember first and foremost, yoga is an internal practice, a personal journey to become more in tune— to “yolk” or unite— your body and your spirit into a harmonious being. Try dedicating your practice to love— compassion for yourself and for others. To encourage yourself, you can even subscribe to an email newsletter that sends you inspiring messages. Think of it as an opportunity in your inbox to grab a reset whenever you need it.
Focus on Meditation
If your yoga journey has mostly been focused on the physical practice, take the journey inward by taking more time for meditation. Try a guided meditation app like Headspace, Calm, or Insight Timer. You can start or finish your daily home practice with 7-10 minutes of meditation and then build up from there.
You’ll hear many yoga teachers say that savasana— final relaxation at the end of class— is the most important pose, yet we often spend only a small percentage of our practice cultivating it. Take a bigger chunk of time for meditation, and Healthline explains you’ll see some pretty incredible health benefits— like lower stress, increased gratitude, reduced blood pressure, and boosted mood, all things we could use while we’re sheltering in place.
Say “Bye-Bye” to Your Comfort Zone
Your at-home practice may be feeling stagnant because you aren’t stretching yourself— and we don’t mean doing seated forward folds. As The Monk Life explains, with this kind of stretching you need to push yourself out of the familiar and into the unknown. You can explore different styles of yoga by practicing with free online videos.
There are many different styles of yoga out there, and you can match the style with your goals:
- Want a more spiritual experience? Try Kundalini.
- Want a deeper physical and mental stretch? Take a Yin class.
- Want to feel more grounded in your body? Learn about chakras.
- Want to push your body to explore new edges? Sign up for a Bikram class.
While exploring new styles and poses can enhance your practice, injury prevention is also critical. To reduce the chances of an injury, warm up gradually, transition to new poses carefully, and release your pose if it’s too painful. If you do sustain an injury, make sure to get plenty of rest and to use natural remedies like topical CBD to treat pain.
Yoga is for everybody and every body. If you can breathe, you can practice yoga. But like any physical or mental commitment, it’s crucial that you maintain your practice. If not being able to attend classes at your local studio has made you practice less, embrace something new to spice things up!