September 25, 2015
Once you’ve discovered the wonders of yoga and found your style, your studio and your gear, it can be easy to take your practice for granted. It’s also easy to make excuses and miss a class, or fall into routines that don’t allow for growth. Here are some suggestions for taking your practice to the next level and getting the most out of your yoga:
1. Set a Goal for Yourself
If you’re having an “off” day, you might tell yourself that missing just one class won’t hurt. We’ve all done it! Sometimes it’s important to listen to your body and take it easy, but more often than not, you’ll feel much better if you push past the doubts and go to that class! To really boost your practice, try setting a goal to commit yourself to daily practice for a set period of time. Lots of studios offer 30-day challenges, and there are also tons of challenges on Instagram, Facebook and other social media. If you’d rather do it on your own, you can simply set a starting date and commit to practicing for at least a short period of time each day. Even 15 minutes of yoga every day will get you in the habit, and remind you of why you started practicing in the first place!
2. Try Something New
If you’ve perfected every pose in your current class, consider branching out and trying a new style of yoga. Got your Iyengar practice down? Try some gentle Restorative yoga or dynamic Vinyasa. Gone to the same studio or instructor for years? See what a different class has to offer! If you find that the new style isn’t for you, you can keep searching or return to what you like best, but you’re sure to gain some new knowledge along the way.
3. Go on a Retreat
For those with the time and money, a yoga festival or retreat can immerse you fully into your yoga practice. There are opportunities to gather and learn with other yogis almost everywhere, whether it’s a 2-week trip to Costa Rica or a weekend-long event in your home town. There are retreats geared to almost every level and ability, so you don’t have to feel intimidated! Practicing away from your daily distractions can help you really concentrate, gain perspective, and make some new friends in the process.
4. Live Your Yoga
Yoga doesn’t have to be all about asanas. Karma yoga, or the yoga of action, is an important way to bring the mindfulness of yoga into your daily life, and even improve other people’s lives in the process. Find a cause in your community that really speaks to you – yoga related or not – and see how you can help. Volunteering at a food bank or animal shelter, helping with a charitable fundraiser, or just taking a pot of soup to a sick friend can develop your spirituality, compassion and mindfulness.
5. Hit the Books
The practice of yoga has a rich history that’s available right at your fingertips. From ancient texts like the Bhagavad Gita to writings of modern yogis like Judith Lasater, there’s a wealth of information and inspiration to be found by reading up on the many and varied teachings of yoga.
6. Gear Up!
Your yoga mat and props have seen you through countless classes, and you may want to stick with what’s working, but sometimes a new piece of yoga gear can enhance your practice, too! For example, using a yoga rug instead of (or in addition to) your mat can ground you, and help you to stop relying on your yoga mat to hold your poses. Using a block or strap can get you into poses that weren’t possible before, and help you work towards new levels of flexibility and precision.
Visit www.barefootyoga.com for all of the supplies you’ll need to enhance your yoga practice!