10 Ways to Improve Your Personal Yoga Practice
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
We have all heard the saying “Practice makes perfect”, and our yoga practice is no different. Committing to a regular yoga practice has countless benefits for body, mind and attitude. Whether you are new to yoga and do not know how to commit to a new routine, or you are an experienced yogi that has fallen away from your yoga practice, these tips may help keep you on your mat.
1. Get serious about spending time on your mat. The quickest way to learn and improve your yoga experience is to practice more often. It is difficult to learn and progress with an occasional approach. With a regular practice the body and brain will make connections and begin to assimilate what you have learned. With continued practice you may find increased strength, flexibility and endurance while on your mat, leading to other health benefits and greater experiences when dealing with all of life’s situations while off of your mat.
2. Find a time and place that is convenient for you to stay committed to your practice. If getting to your mat is a stressful hassle, you will quickly lose interest and will likely give up. Having a small dedicated space in your home or a nearby studio to unroll your mat can make it easier to stick to your practice. When practicing at home eliminate distractions such a phones & television and let family members know that this is your time to take care of yourself. Or find a studio that is easy to get to with convenient parking, offers many different classes and has a caring and knowledgeable teacher you will help you stay interested and committed to your yoga goals.
3. Start with basic poses and easy to remember flows. Learning basic yoga poses and sequences of poses is not easy- there is much to be learned about alignment, breath and energy that contribute to the stability and ease of each shape. The more you understand the basics, you will be able to modify the poses to make them more/ less challenging to suit your needs. Basic yoga poses are the building blocks needed to understand and experience the more challenging yoga poses and without them, you may find other poses more difficult, or even impossible. Remember, nothing can be built on a shaky foundation, and this includes your yoga practice and poses.
4. Wear comfortable easy clothing. You don’t need a specific brand or style of clothing to practice in but there are some things you should stay away from. Tight, restrictive clothing can make it difficult to move in and out of poses. Clothing that is too baggy and loose may get in your way and may even become a hazard. Find something that is comfortable, fits well and allows you to move about freely without having to adjust often. Be prepared to work in your bare feet to feel most stable and connected while on your mat.
5. Keep it simple. You don’t need an expensive mat, name brand yoga apparel or a bunch of yoga accessories to start your practice. Most studios will have everything you need to get started and offer free or close to free rental of mats for a session. For a home practice things you have around the house can be used in place of items you will find in a studio. A beach towel can serve as a yoga mat or blanket, couch cushions or pillows can become a bolster for support, a small stack of old paperback books taped together can become a yoga block, and an old necktie or belt can be used as a yoga strap.
6. Ask a friend to join you or find an accountability partner to check in with. It is easy to cancel plans when there is nobody else to consider. But having a yoga buddy that you do not want to disappoint can help you stay committed to your practice. Or connect with someone to be your accountability partner and check in before/after your planned sessions. A simple text or email is a perfect way to check in if you are unable to meet or talk, but it is important to check in regularly.
7. Find a teacher that resonates with you. Don’t make a decision based on one studio or one teacher before rolling up your mat permanently. There is a teacher out there that is right for you. If group sessions are not for you, most yoga teachers offer 1:1 sessions and will be happy to discuss your goals and plans for your yoga practice. Ask friends, family, physicians and other caregivers for references, or check out Yoga Alliance for local teachers and yoga schools that are registered with them.
8. Starting a home practice is easier than ever! Videos, YouTube, social media offerings are easy to access and have some great content. These can be helpful tools to help you get started and become familiar with poses, pacing, yoga language and more.
9. Commit to a shorter daily practice, such as 10 minutes. Set a timer to stay motivated and let you know when you have met your threshold time. But don’t be surprised if once on your mat you stay there longer than you intended. Also, you will find you progress more quickly with several shorter practices each week rather than 1 longer practice.
10. Let go of judgement and comparison and have fun! Just like your mood, your attitude and your energy level are different from day to day, so will be your yoga practice-even if you are doing the same poses. You may find that some days on your mat are more challenging than others, and others will be easier. But stick with your commitment and soon you will realize the numerous benefits for this age old practice!