“Oh, my gosh, I will NEVER be able to do that!”
That was my go-to expression when viewing postures like the one on this page. It wasn’t until I was knee-deep in yoga training, watching beautiful yogis balance on their noses (slight exaggeration there) and pretzel their bodies behind their head that I learned the difference between an advanced asana or physical yoga practice and advancing my own yoga practice. As I sat in awe, unable to do even the easiest variation of most of the postures being instructed, my fellow trainee nudged me.
“You do know that being able to do a complicated pose doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with deepening your practice,” she said.
“Going deeper means getting to know yourself better and finding stillness in your mind.”
Here are 5 tips to do just that:
Hit it with your best shot. Every single day. Your practice does not have to be a certain length of time to “count.” An hour one day, five minutes the next — do what you can, when you can, but be consistent daily. It is better to practice every day of the week for shorter periods than to only practice once a week for several hours.
- Focus on your breathing. In the car, at the store, when you are incredibly frustrated or incredibly happy. Witness your breathing throughout your day. Set a timer on your phone if you need to, but remember to take several deep breaths throughout the day.
- Do something nice for another being with no attachment to the outcome. Giving with no attachment to receiving so much as a thank you is a true act of kindness.
- Let go of your own judgement. If that’s easier said than done, then work on it. Be kind to yourself. Ease up off the self-judgement train and you might just find yourself advancing your practice.
- Study. Research the yoga texts. Looking for somewhere to start? “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele is a wonderful introduction to the ethical code of yoga and a light read.
- Here’s the crazy part: When we focus on the essence of yoga, things like postures often evolve and come along for the ride.