It happens even with the best of good habits — sometimes we get sick of doing too much of a great thing. If you're in a yoga rut, the first thing you might do is to hit pause on your yoga routine.
Maybe a short (or longer) break from asana practice might be just what you need to reignite your passion. Other than taking a rest, rekindling the flame of your love for yoga can be as simple as making some changes to your practice — keeping in mind that yoga is practiced on and off the mat.
If you need help getting out of a rut, here are 15 suggestions to have you falling in love with your practice all over again.
1. Change the location of practice.
This may mean practicing outdoors instead of at home or in a studio. If you normally practice at home, try a studio class. If you normally go to a studio, focus on your home practice. Try beach yoga, park yoga, forest yoga – see if nature’s aphrodisiac can’t reset your desire.
2. Change the time of day when you practice.
If you practice in the morning, try in the evening, or vice versa. Your morning yoga may focus on breathing and meditation, with some gentler asana. An evening/night practice may be stronger, or perhaps you’ll feel tired after a day at work so take a slower pace to suit (perhaps Yin yoga).
If you never practice in the middle of the day it can be a great time for strong sequences – try a flowing series of sun salutations with the sun at its strongest.
3. Try a new teacher.
You know you are your own best guru, but changing teachers can give you a whole new zest or focus. Whether in a studio, or an online class, mix it up. Your favourite teacher will be waiting for you when you return refreshed. (We yoga teachers can be a sensitive bunch, but I promise you, I wouldn’t take your absence personally).
4. Try a new style.
If you’ve never tried hot yoga then give it a go. If you haven’t explored Iyengar, Kundalini, aerial yoga or stand-up paddle board yoga, try them — what do you have to lose?
5. Find a friend or practice alone.
Even if you take studio classes regularly, finding a new friend at the studio or introducing one of your non-yogic friends to yoga (in whatever form) might be a kick-start for looking at your own practice in a new light.
Or if you are always looking to others to motivate/support you, then go at it alone and find your purpose and power within.
6. Set different practice intentions.
Whether it's a Sankalpa or a specific intention for just one class or session, change your focus (be it balance, breath or whatever) and find renewed focus.
7. Work with your challenges.
You might find balance or flexibility better on one side, or perhaps you have one or two postures that you can’t seem to ‘master’ when others come much easier. Working with (as opposed to resisting) your challenges can be frustrating, but it can also be empowering.
The rewards can be very motivating. And that goes with learning to sit still in meditation or resisting the urge to get attached to outcomes in life. Acknowledge your challenges and breathe through them.
8. Ease through your practice.
Maybe you’ve been maxing out your yang energy with too much pushing and striving on the mat and in life. Personally I don’t think we ever achieve much by pushing too hard. Take a softer, surrendered approach and see what difference it makes.
9. Focus on transitions.
It's easy to get fixated on the shapes we make in postures. Focus on the spaces in between – the breath that moves you between asanas, the subtle energy movement you feel after coming out of a particular posture.
I use the analogy of music; we appreciate music because of the pauses in between the notes as much as the notes themselves. Otherwise it would all sound like noise.
10. Bring your attention to your core.
It’s always switched on, right? This may be through setting a practice intention to just keep remembering those core muscles and finding your strength.
11. Bring your attention to your feet.
Again, you can keep coming back to finding solid ground, stopping the toes gripping in balance postures, feeling the earth’s support beneath you.
12. Practice in the dark.
For a deeply spiritual experience, to leave the ego behind, to test your balance – give it a try.
13. Add stimulation for the senses.
Use music, try a different playlist, incorporate essential oils for sensory healing, or try a ‘sound bath’ meditation with the amazing healing vibrations of sound.
14. Practice Karma yoga.
Yoga practice isn't restricted to asana and the time you spend on a mat. Make good deeds part of your yoga practice and see how good you feel.
15. Practice Bhakti yoga.
Make your yoga and life a devotion to the divine and an expression of the love of God. Study the spiritual texts, the Bhagavad Gita is the cornerstone.
Have you ever been in a yoga rut? How did you shake yourself out of it?