10 Tips to Renew Your Yoga Practice
Yoga practice is like life. Sometimes it’s great, and you can’t imagine any other way of living. Other times the downside of life interferes, and you can barely bring yourself to the mat. Or boredom kicks in, and you grow a little tired of the same old practice.
But, like life, yoga is always evolving. Don’t get stuck in a yoga rut. Try these ten tips to keep your yoga practice moving forward.
- Take your practice outside. You don’t need a beach at sunset or a mountaintop view to get reacquainted with nature. Throw your mat down in a local park or even your back yard. Changing your scenery does more than improve your view; it gives you a new perspective on your place in the world. When I’m in Savasana looking up at the clouds in the sky, I’m reminded that I am but a small piece of a much bigger picture, which fills me with a sense of great peace.
- Slow down. If your practice consists mostly of vinyasa or hot yoga classes, try a restorative class where you are forced to slow down and tune in to your body. This could be a challenge if your brain goes on full monkey-mind mode. But also an excellent opportunity to quiet the monkey within.
- Go back to basics. Whether you’ve been doing yoga for one year or ten years, the basics of yoga never change. Put aside your advanced poses for a bit and return to Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Play around with the pressure on each part of your feet and lengthening through your spine. Notice how a simple pose can become more interesting. Spend some time exploring the foundation of Down Dog or the intricacies of Warrior I.
- Teach someone new. Surely you’ve heard someone say, “I can’t do yoga because I’m too old, too sick, too fat, etc.” Take a little time and show them the beauty of how yoga fits everybody right where they are, despite age or health. Even just sitting in a chair and demonstrating a few twists and chest openers can be enough to ignite the flame of yoga in somebody else.
- Become a student again. Sign up for a local workshop or training in a type of yoga entirely unfamiliar to you. Set aside your teacher’s brain for a few hours and learn something new. It doesn’t matter if you never end up incorporating it into your practice; the goal is to see yoga with fresh eyes and an open mind.
- Practice yoga off the mat. That can be standing in Tree while you do dishes or popping into a Half Down Dog in your office. Or, concentrate on the other seven limbs of yoga. Find places in your day to practice ahimsa by showing kindness to the store clerk who messed up your order again, or self-study by spending your lunch break journaling.
- Move beyond asana. Instead of moving through a few morning vinyasas, commit to one week of daily meditation. Bonus points for taking it beyond one week!
- Think the Bhagavad Gita is just for yoga teacher training? Dust off your old copy and reread it with the wisdom you’ve gained from your years of practice. Hopefully, you’ll have an even deeper understanding after rereading it. Or, there are many excellent yoga books out now. Some authors are famous teachers, some are unknown teachers, but all have words of wisdom to share.
- Pull out the probably most well-known yoga book Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar. I have a friend who chooses one pose from the book to make her “weekly pose.” She incorporates the pose into both her home practice and her classes. It’s an excellent way for her to take time to explore and play with the pose. Of course, it’s also a great chance to learn to modify the more advanced poses.
- This might sound like yoga blasphemy, but maybe you just need a time out from yoga? I know when I take a week or two off from my practice, I not only crave getting back to the mat, but I have a newfound appreciation for what yoga gives me. Taking a short vacation from yoga to focus on other parts of your life doesn’t make you a bad yogi. It makes you a yogi aware of needing balance in all areas of life.
Jennifer Williams-Fields E-RYT 200 is passionate about writing, yoga, traveling, public speaking, and being a fabulous single momma to six super kids. Doing it all at one time, however, is her great struggle. She has been teaching yoga since 2005 and writing since she first picked up a crayon. Although her life is a sort of organized chaos, she loves every minute of the craziness and is grateful for all she’s learned along the way. Her first book, “Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom,” is now available on Amazon. She has had her essays featured on Yahoo! and Dr. Oz The Good Life. She is a regular writer for Elephant Journal Magazine, Your Tango, and YogaUOnline. See more from Jennifer at jenniferwilliamsfields.com