Free Home Practice Guide! If you didn't already receive my new 16-page Home Yoga Practice Guide, you can DOWNLOAD IT HERE! It’s full of practical tips and suggestions to support your independent practice, and includes a pose syllabus and practice sequences if you have 15, 30 60 minutes or more. I hope you enjoy it!
One of the big challenges longtime practitioners of yoga face is how to keep practice stimulating and fresh. Like any long-term partnership, our relationship with practice needs to be nurtured, and reinvigorated regularly for it to be sustained and stay satisfying. While we want practice to become ‘routine’ in the sense that it becomes a regular part of our lives if we are always doing the same thing every day practice can feel dry and rote. Furthermore, the beneficial effects of yoga to our bodies and minds will diminish over time if new stimulation is not introduced.
Having an active engagement with your practice means experimenting with variety, and finding ways to keep practice enjoyable and varied. It’s a crucial part for maintaining your enthusiasm for practice over the long term and maximizing the benefits of your practice time. Here are some possibilities:
Find new ways to challenge yourself in asana
Creating challenges is an important part of keeping practice lively and interesting. When you consciously create situations to confront your tendencies your nervous system will be stimulated, proprioception will be enhanced and your mind will become more alert.
Finding ways to skillfully challenge yourself in asana doesn’t have to mean working toward harder, more "advanced" poses. It definitely doesn’t mean struggling, forcing or pushing your body beyond what’s appropriate. It doesn’t even necessarily mean doing more. Rather, challenge in asana can mean:
- Varying the poses you practice by planning the content and focus of your practice to focus on a different class of poses each day or each week.
- Regularly practicing poses you don’t prefer. This is one of the benefits of working through a syllabus of poses over time.
- Practicing different variations of or using different prop supports for poses you usually practice to challenge your body in a different way.
- Changing the speed of your usual way of practicing. Do more, quickly. Do less, slower and deeper.
Take breaks, do other things and come back
If you tend to get bored by your practice, or find yourself drawn to moving in a different way, taking a break from practice for a time might be useful in helping you to shift perspetive and refresh your approach to practice.
Have a practice buddy
Even if you don’t converse or interact very much, just the presence of another person in the room can shift your usual approach and engagement with your practice.
Incorporate other modalities
Another way to keep practice interesting and fun and add new challenge is to experiment with incorporating other movement and fitness modalities. Pilates, Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Dance, Ball Work, to name only a few of the many important and valuable movement and mind-body disciplines available. See what you are drawn to, try new things out, take what feels good in your body and helpful for your mind, nurturing to your spirit and sprinkle it into your practice.
Add an audio soundtrack
Listen to music or an inspiring talk or interview during practice sometimes.
Continue to be a student!
Taking classes and workshops can provide new insight and inspiration for your independent practice. Even just one class with a very experienced teacher can inspire you give you months of materials to work on! Even if you aren’t in a position to study with experienced teachers, there’s a wealth of media freely available to all of us to inspire continued learning and expansion in our practice.
Learning about and studying complementary disciplines like Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine, and all those wonderful other movement and mind-body modalities can also be a great way to fuel your inspiration by adding depth and insight to your practice.
UPCOMING MONTREAL-AREA EVENTS
Evolving your Yoga Talk and Guided Discussion
Wanderlust Studio, Montreal, QC
Thursday, March 9 7:30-9pm
BY DONATION. Are you a yoga teacher or student interested in expanding the benefits of your yoga practice without necessarily doing more or working harder? Do you sense (or even know) that yoga can serve you in bigger ways and yet are unsure how to go about extracting the richness of the practice? Join us for this interactive, engaging and practical discussion with special guest and experienced yoga teacher Barrie Risman, about getting the most out of your yoga practice by:
- Clarifying why you practice and the role yoga plays in your life
- Learning simple approaches to practice that will infinitely expand the benefits of how you practice and teach yoga.
- Understanding how to apply the basic wisdom of yoga to serve you in your life right now.
Evolving Your Yoga: Backbends Master Class
Happy Tree Yoga, Montreal, QC
Sunday, March 12 10am-12:30pm
This workshop for continuing students and teachers includes a reflective look at your yoga practice followed by a deep backbending practice. You’ll discover how yoga is working for you in your life right now and clarify your intention for practice. You will also experience the transformative power of heart-centered asana to weave your vision into the fabric of your being where it can begin to manifest!