When I first started practicing yoga a few years ago, my mind was very busy and analytical during practice. I think that’s pretty normal! There’s a lot to pay attention to. Looking back, I know I was actually pretty tough on myself. But there was something there- a seed that kept me coming back to my mat, kept me practicing. Over time, things evolved. My practice shifted, and I started to be more myself on the mat. With that came more ease, more joy. Much of this came from a shift in how I perceived yoga practice, and ultimately how I perceived myself. Here’s what I have learned so far. I would love to hear what you have learned as well.
Be yourself and do what feels good. Yoga is an exploration of the self. We are all very different, so our practice will vary from person to person and even from day to day. Get rid of striving, grasping, and comparing. Try to shut off the message “am I doing this right?” and tune in to “how does this feel?.”
Feel the rebound from the poses. Too often in class we may feel in a rush to get from one pose to the next. Doing the postures is not the only goal of yoga, nor is “keeping up” or going at any particular speed. Doing the postures, whether they are for strength, stretching or balance, will change the energy in the body. Take a moment or two to notice that shift in energy between poses. That moment when we let go. It is delicious! The biggest rebound of all can come after savasana. Once you sit up, don’t be in a hurry to jump off your mat unless you absolutely need to be somewhere. Sit quietly and enjoy the results of your practice.
Practice without expectation of a particular result. If we go into class expecting something specific, like nailing a certain pose, or feeling a certain way, we may come out disappointed. Why not open up to whatever manifests itself that day. Be curious. Be surprised! Practice is an amazing thing. The more we practice the more we change and grow, and most often in unexpected ways.
Let your breath create space – breathe deeply. Full breaths make us strong and calm. They provide a rhythm that underlies our practice and draws us inward to ourselves.
When you are ready, branch out and try something new. Never say never. Challenge yourself to try a different class style or different teacher, even practice at a different time of day. Learn something new like a meditation or breathing technique, or a new pose you have never tried before. Each new experience will allow you to learn more about yourself and stretch your boundaries a little bit more. Be open, and trust in the power of practice.
Leslie October 2019