Yoga Advice That Should be ObviousApr 04, 2023
Yoga is something that has to be experienced through practice; that’s something that I harp on to my students, on my social media accounts, and in my emails, basically to anyone who will listen to me.
But focusing on practice, getting inside our heads, and reading too much about what other people are doing regarding yoga can cause us to gloss over the details.
With that in mind, this blog will review some of the basic principles I don’t usually cover around here because they are obvious for many of you long-time followers. Read them over and see if they are obvious to you.
Postures Shouldn’t Hurt
Yoga asanas can be challenging, awkward, and uncomfortable but they should never be painful. If a posture hurts, it’s either being done wrong, or it’s wrong for your body at this time. Back off the pose and talk to your teacher about why this pose hurts. You can consider modifying the posture or using a prop to make it more accessible.
It’s YOUR Body, and YOUR Body Knows Best
You, and only you, are the authority on your body. A teacher may try to guide you into a pose or offer suggestions, but they cannot feel what you feel in your body. Listen to your body and let that be your guide. You and only you can decide if a posture is appropriate for you to practice and how you will practice them.
Your Progress Will Not Be Linear
Progress in yoga is not always linear. While it’s natural to expect that consistent effort and dedication would lead to steady improvement in one’s practice, the reality is that progress can come in spurts or be interrupted by setbacks. Life happens - and so do injuries, pregnancies, work, and other obligations. Thus, it's important for practitioners to approach yoga with patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to embrace the ups and downs of the journey.
Asana is Only the Tip of the Iceberg.
Asana might be the poster child for yoga, but the practice has much more depth to it. Yoga is an eight-limbed path; it’s a holistic practice that aims to integrate the body, mind, and spirit. There are several aspects of yoga that contribute to this integration, such as pranayama, meditation, and ethical guidelines for living.
In short, while asana is a significant part of yoga, it is just the tip of the iceberg. To experience the full benefits of yoga, one must embrace all aspects of the practice.
You Have to Have Your Own Experience.
Yoga is meant to be experienced. Pattabhi Jois said it best, Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory. You can read about other people's experiences in books and blogs, you can follow yogis on social media and see their version of yoga, and you can look at fancy asana photos, but ultimately you need to experience yoga through your own lens. What’s true for other people will not be true for you. Time and practice will answer most of your questions about what is right or wrong.
Consistency and Repetition are Key
Consistency is vital when it comes to yoga practice. It is important to establish a regular routine, even if it is just a few minutes a day. This will help to build strength, flexibility, and proficiency. Consistency and repetition allow us to learn, refine, and grow.
Do NOT Undervalue the Steps
There’s a lot of emphases placed on the final state of an asana. But equally, if not more important, are all the little steps that lead up to the asana. There are a hundred steps between starting the asana and the final state of it, and each step is precious because without the setup, connecting to the breath, visualizing the pose, aligning the body, and so on, the final state of the posture wouldn’t be possible. This gives us leeway to not only focus on the end goal but ultimately to realize that it’s not about an end goal but rather the process.
Yoga is a Lifelong Practice
Yoga is a lifelong practice because it fosters a mindset of continuous growth and self-improvement. In yoga, there is no such thing as perfection or completion; practitioners strive to deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them through their practice. They learn to listen to their bodies, quiet their minds, and connect with their inner selves, cultivating a sense of mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude that can enhance their lives in countless ways.
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