We all have unique abilities when it comes to the physical parts of yoga like strength and flexibility, but yoga is so much more than that. It’s about bringing the body, mind, and spirit together. The practice of yoga is a continual evolution for everyone. It takes time to learn the postures and to improve on them so be patient and love your body for what it can do.
To begin strengthening your yoga practice, start with gentle warm-ups to get your body ready and learn to listen to it. When does it want to work harder and when does it need a break? It’s important to know what your body needs and you should let that attitude drive your yoga practice. Here are four tips to help you strengthen your yoga practice:
Respect the Limits of Your Own Body
Whether you practice yoga in a studio or at home, don’t ever compare yourself to anyone. It’s easy to be intimidated by other students in your class or by the yoga instructor, but yoga is a personal practice and you shouldn’t judge yourself or anyone else for how they perform. If you aren’t as flexible or can’t do a pose exactly the way someone else can, that’s ok. Some people are more flexible than others and have been practicing longer. Just bend and stretch to your personal capacity and thank your body for it.
The best rule of thumb is to move into a pose as far as you can while remaining stable and comfortable. Don’t be lazy and don’t push yourself past your limits – find a balance between the two. Always practice within this balance and you’ll find yourself improving in no time.
If you want to stretch farther into a pose, focus on using deep breathing to carry you into the stretch. Once you’ve reached the end of a breath, rest for a moment and then let another breath carry you deeper into the pose. Continue to do this until you have reached your capacity for a certain pose and it will help you make small improvements that add up over time. Long yogi breaths help you to relax and maintain a posture.
Learn to Be Aware of Your Own Body
Learn to be more aware of your own body by observing your movements closely and adjusting them as needed for a safe and productive yoga practice. Notice where your hands and feet go during certain poses. What helps you to feel grounded and steady? Your body gives you signals and it’s important to listen to them. If you feel pain as you move into a posture, readjust or hold back a bit until you feel comfortable again. Pushing past your limits only results in injury and time off the mat.
Practice Makes Perfect
There’s no such thing as perfect yoga practice, but you get the gist. If you dedicate yourself to your yoga practice and focus on always making improvements no matter how big or small, you will see yourself to start to improve. It’s called a yoga “practice” for a reason – there are always improvements to be made no matter how long you have been practicing yoga.