To me, yoga is a life time practice. It's reliable, always delivering a state of clarity. It is therapeutic on every level. These days, I am meeting more and more students who seek for depth of knowledge, insight of the postural practice and what should really be happening behind the shapes. Such inquiries always start from the physical stuff, then when you look into it, it leads us into the fields of the mind.
The effect of yoga practice can vary depending on the methods and traditions. One thing for sure from my personal experience is when you find a way to reach into the deepest connective tissues, close to the spine and around the pelvis, you can experience so much more than feeling just stretched. I often sense a meditative feeling that can't be accessed through superficial layers. Once you know how to access such a state physically and mentally, the quality of practice changes. Practice will no longer be a goal orientated activity.
Breathing with skill and using certain muscles to access the internal locks/bandhas are prerequisite to improve your experience. Constantly watch your mental state during your practice, it's very interesting.
I have listed some ideas to improve your practice and to make it more therapeutic as well as transformative.
1. Focus on the physical sensations that arise during practice. It's human nature to avoid any discomfort. In yoga and mediation, we face them to make peace with them.
2. When the mind tries to distract you from discomfort and leads you to engage with another thought, say to yourself that "everything else can wait until practice finishes". Dedicate yourself to practice while it lasts.
3. Keep an eye on the quality of your breathing and refine/adjust constantly. Breath tells you how you are coping with your practice. Use Ujjayi breathing - it's the best for asana practice.
4. Acknowledge fear when it comes up and accept that it is normal to be scared about something - for example, if you can't stop worrying about certain back bends or inversions. Remember, no one is spared of it. As your practice evolves, the nature of your worries also change.
5. Be compassionate to yourself: stop inner criticism - celebrate your intention and commitment. Changing the thought process from negative to positive allows you to soften. Your practice will feel lighter as a result.
6. Face challenges to keep you engaged in your practice - ie. work on the particular back bend or inversion that worries you by getting some guidance from your teacher. Believe in yourself and stop limiting yourself. If your mind keeps wandering during practice, your practice needs updating. It is possible you are getting bored with the routine.
7. Remember nothing is permanent - including the moments of fear and struggle.
Please reach out to me for more information about how to enjoy your yoga practice. I love sharing with you.
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