I teach a lot of yoga. I write about yoga, I dream about yoga. Yoga is my life. I’m always trying to find ways to rediscover my breath and my awareness of how I feel in my body during my yoga practice. Recently, I was thinking about ways to move more deeply into my practice. What I found in my own self-discovery was amazing. I thought I might share this discovery with you. Here are a few pointers that may help deepen your personal practice.
1. Take Your Yoga Practice Back To The Beginning
Try taking a beginner's class. Come back to your mat with a beginner’s mind. Rediscover what made you fall in love with practice. If you are taking progressive mixed level classes stay in the most basic form of the pose. Resist the urge to take the next progression in the pose and spend time connecting with the structure of the asana at the basic level. If the pose starts in table and more advanced options are offered, like down dog or 3 legged dog just stay in table. Take the time to observe the weight in your hands, push into your index finger mount, your finger pads and the L of your hand. Close your eyes and stretch your backs through extending and flexing your spine
2. Go So Slow
Cultivate and connect your breath with the asana by going super slow. Really concentrate on breathing so that your breath starts before the asana. So breathe first and then start to move into your posture instead of rushing through it as so may practitioners with monkey mind do.
3. Get Into Your Meditation Zone At Home
Take 10 minutes of meditation every day at home. Before you sit to meditate start with a 5 minute hip opening practice, take pigeon pose, deep lunge, down dog, and then finish with a pose of your choice. (My personal favorite pre-meditation pose is baddha konasana- bound angle pose) Now you are ready to sit for meditation. You can choose a chair or sit up on a meditation cushion to lift your sitting bones and release your knees to the earth. Draw your spine long and strong by lifting out of the roof of your mouth. Take your shoulder blades back and relax into your seat with palms facing upward. Get really quiet and silent with yourself. Let whatever is going to come up come up. This is an exercise in self-study.
4. Try Your Entire Practice With Your Eyes Closed
This is my personal favourite thing to do. I do this whenever and wherever I practice. This forces you to take you awareness inward. When you take time to take focus inward you can really connect mind with body. Try a tree pose with your eyes closed so you can really enhance your balance practice. With eyes closed, going within is a great way to get a greater sense of balance and sense of self without distraction
5. Keep A Journal And Write About Your Practice
This is a tough one for me. Taking pen to paper is a powerful practice. It’s an opportunity to learn about yourself fully. Reread your journal often and see what you learned about yourself when you opened your hips and stretched your mind. Journaling is a great way to see your progression and to move deeper into the practice.
Taking the time to know yourself is a worthwhile lifelong endeavor. Why not start today by moving deeper on your mat.