Yoga is an amazing practice that has so many benefits; it helps us to breathe deeper, calm our minds, stretch and strengthen our bodies, and keeps us from going totally bananas. (Most of the time, anyway). No matter how much we love yoga, we can still find ourselves stuck in a rut with our practice. Like other activities and routines, there are times when we just need to shake things up a little bit and offer a new perspective, a different element or a challenge to our regular habits. Some days and can be hard to get off the couch and onto your mat. We know that we’ll be better off for it, but the couch is warm and a new episode of the Bachelorette just started…
It’s totally normal for us to fall into these ruts and maybe take a few days off to relax and heal our bodies, but it took time to develop a consistent habit and you don’t want to throw away all that hard work and dedication. Plus, the Bachelorette will still be looking for love in twenty minutes after you’ve run through a few sun salutations and warrior sequences.
Change your perspective
Do you have a place you always lay your mat? Whether you’re at home or at a studio, try to switch things up a bit. It’s incredible how much our practice changes when we are literally seeing things in a different light. Try taking your mat to the park or the beach if it’s warm, or practice at the front of the class rather than in the back corner like usual. The simple change in scenery will offer a breathe of fresh air.
There are days when we really don’t feel like practicing. And that’s okay. We do need to take time to rest properly, and if our body is really asking us for a break, then we should honour that. But then there are the days when our mind is telling us to stay in bed rather than meditate, and those are the days we need to kick that little devil off our shoulder and get our butt’s in gear. If you’re really not feeling a practice, just go to your mat anyways and start to move. Maybe it’s just a couple sun salutations to start, but once you start moving, you’ll feel your body loosening up, your mind quieting, and you’ll want to keep going. Listen to your body and the movement is is asking for. This will also help with creative flow.
Try a new style or studio
One of the great things about yoga (and there are many!) is that there are a number of styles and variations that we can practice. Sometimes we need to slow things down, trying a yin or restorative practice if we’re used to a vinyasa style; or maybe it’s the other way around, challenging ourselves with a quicker flow series. Check out the schedule of your local studios and see what classes and styles they’re offering. And don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re not sure something is the right fit, or you want more information on a style or teacher. The internet is also a great place to find video practices and more information on different styles, their history and benefits.
Pick a peak pose
Picking a peak pose to work with is a fun way to change up a home practice. Find a pose that you would like to work on and then build a practice around it. Say you want to work on your splits, orhanuman. This would be your peak pose. To build up to it, you will need to do some hamstring stretches, such as forward folds, half splits and wide-legged forward fold; and you’ll want to open up the front of your hips as well. Low lunge, pigeon, and warrior I are all great options. Once you add in a few sun salutations and warm up poses, you’ll be flowing in no time, and have created a whole new practice!
Revisit your intention
It can be easy to forget why we practice yoga. Everyone has a different reason, which is one of the beautiful things about the practice. Our reasoning can change over time as we encounter new experiences and people, and grow into ourselves. But even so, there will always be an underlying reason why we practice. Take some time to revisit this question and what your practice means to you. Write it out, talk about it with a friend, or meditate on it. Once you remember why you continue to come to your mat, day after day, you’ll be more inclined to get there on days you’re feeling stuck or out of the flow.
Remember that we all go through periods when we’re not feeling our practice and it’s totally normal. But rather than tuck your mat into the back of your closet, get back on it and start moving, even if it’s just for ten minutes. Your body and your mind will thank you, and you’ll find that with these tricks you’ll soon be back to your normal flow (and with a little twist!).