5 Tips to Progressing in Your Yoga Practice

How long have you been practicing yoga? If you’ve been practicing for some time, I’m sure there have been times where you feel uninspired in your yoga practice, feel like you’ve hit a wall in your progress, or I hate to say it, just bored of yoga altogether.

My first yoga class was in 2012 and my yoga journey hasn’t been linear. There were times where I only made it to my mat once a week or less because of work and life. I remember a stretch where I was pretty bored of yoga and took time off and actually considered no longer teaching.

But I also have been really inspired and eager to learn and further my journey. I would say that is where I am today. In this post, I’ll share with you 5 tips to progressing in your yoga practice. Read on! They may bring back the love you felt when you first got into yoga!

1. Try out a new studio, instructor, or style of yoga

Think back to your first yoga class. Most likely, a friend brought you to his or her yoga studio. That’s how I got started! A friend brought me to try a free week and I got a membership right after. It’s great to find a home studio and a community to grow into. After a while though, when you’ve been going to the same instructors, classes, and studio, it can be a lot of the same thing. Same is good, but sometimes you need to infuse something new in your practice. Try out a new studio, instructor, or style of yoga.

Back in March, I tried?my first Ashtanga class?and I loved it. A little over two weeks ago, I started practicing Ashtanga regularly through Kino MacGregor’s online yoga platform, OmStars. Also earlier this year, I started practicing at other studio on a regular basis. I currently take classes at YogaWorks, CorePower Yoga, and Equinox?and there’s a lot of variety there.

Don’t be afraid to change things up! The best feeling is being a beginner at something and seeing your progress.

?2. Be consistent

Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity. -Bruce Lee

I’ve been seeing that the key to progress in anything is consistency. I’ve been noticing this in my new meditation practice (18 days in a row today!) and daily ashtanga practice as well. The great thing about yoga is it is relatively low impact, so you can get on your mat everyday and your body will feel good. Maybe doing yoga everyday seems like a stretch. What if you added one minute of stretching before you go to sleep or one minute right when you wake up? We spend countless of minutes just scrolling among other things, so I know we can carve out time for this.

A little on a consistent basis is better than doing a double one day a week.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been able to be consistent with it and my body feels so much more open and my hamstrings have become more flexible.

3.?Develop a home practice

I love taking instructor-led yoga classes. Going into that room without any distractions, listening to the instructor’s voice and tuning into my breath is my favorite thing. When I can, I try to take a class. But lately, most of my yoga has been out of the studio setting. I mostly practice at home or at the gym on my own. There’s a lot of yoga subscription services online and YouTube has great free content. As an instructor, I have a limited amount of time to take the class through integration to savasana, so we can only work on so much in those 60 minutes. But when you practice at home, you can stay and break down that pose for as long as you’d like. You can really customize what you want to work on and find all the videos and tutorials. You get to be a student of your body. Home practice also teaches you discipline and focus since you have to be more intentional about that time.

4. Challenge yourself

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote says it all. I think we don’t challenge ourselves enough at times. I know I don’t, that’s why I like taking certain instructor’s classes because they really push me past what I think I can do. We’re all at different levels in our yoga practice. But if we only stick with the poses that we’ve mastered and have locked in, our practice won’t grow. I think I have a mental block of falling from inversions so I’m still working on that with headstand and forearm stand. It’s been said that the poses you avoid are the ones you need the most.

Commit to moving beyond the poses you always go to, with safety and alignment in mind of course!

5. Have patience

Lastly and most importantly, have patience with yourself, your body, your journey. Progress takes time. Know and accept exactly where you are. Understand your strengths and areas of improvement. This will keep you from the comparison trap. When you know exactly who you are and the incredible value you have to offer, you will feel fearless, on and off your mat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope this was helpful! I’d love to hear any stories you may have of times you’ve felt uninspired or bored of yoga. What got you out of it? Leave me a note in the comments below.

Thank you Charlotte for these beautiful photos!

??Bianca

Let’s keep in touch!

 

Two Takeaways From Yoga Class This Week

In this post, I’ll share two takeaways I learned from yoga class this week. On Sundays, I usually like to take C3 at CorePower Yoga with one of my favorite instructors. He has a really strong ashtanga yoga practice that inspires me. The class is an hour and 15 minutes. The instructor leads the class at a slower pace which allows us to move through the poses more mindfully and helps us connect breath to movement.

It was rainy this past Sunday. After church, I got to CorePower with 30 minutes to spare before the studio opened. While I was waiting, I did some breathing exercises in my car and practiced sitting in stillness. The rain drops collected on my windshield. I watched as different-sized water droplets filled the dry spaces on the glass. It was really peaceful.

I walked out of my car and couldn’t wait to lay on my mat.?The heated room felt amazing since it was cold outside. We started class and it felt really good to flow.

During transitions into chaturanga, I usually practice handstand. During this?particular class, I felt so close to holding handstand longer than a few seconds. Then that’s when the frustration started.

The thoughts that came up were,

What are you doing? Why can’t you get this?

As far as I can remember, that was the first time I experienced frustration on my mat. So then I think I got more frustrated because aren’t you “supposed” to be all zen while you’re doing yoga? Haha.

But the truth is yogis aren’t always namaste all day.

I took savasana earlier than the instructor told us to and just laid still.?When I left the studio, the sun was shining bright and the pavement was still wet from all the rain earlier.

Later that day, I was scrolling through old photos on my phone and stumbled upon a yoga photo I took two years ago and that’s when I realized two things:

Progress Takes Time

The photo that I found was the one below; my first few attempts at king dancer’s pose taken in April of 2015.

Once I saw it I quickly realized I should put it side-by-side with a photo I took just last week in San Diego. When I saw the?photos together it occurred to me how much progress had taken place in two years. You can see it mostly in my hip flexor, shoulder, and back flexibility.

Then I realized, wow, two years is actually a long time.

Progress takes time.

Left: May 2015, Right: February 2017

Are you working on anything in your yoga practice? Or maybe it could be something completely unrelated. It helps to remember that while you may not see your progress each day, the effort/time/energy that you put in adds up to big things over time.

Whatever it is you are facing today, keep the faith and keep going.

Internal Weighs more?than External

The next thing I realized?was that the simple act of sitting in my car and breathing was yoga and it didn’t involve moving through poses. Taking care of what’s within (our mind, heart, and spirit) is so key. We all invest in taking care of ourselves on the outside. Eating well, exercising, and other external self-care practices are priorities in my life. But lately, I’ve been trying to invest more on what’s within.

Inner self-care will look different for all of us. What helps you get grounded and centered? How are you taking care of your mental, emotional and spiritual health? I find that breathing exercises, journaling, praying, resting,?spending time in nature, and being with friends and family really helps me.

When we take care of what’s inside, the outside naturally follows.

Thank you for reading!

??Bianca