If you want to take your practice to the next level and grow beyond the physical benefits, here are a few things to try:
1. Let yoga be more than your workout. Yoga will help you stay fit, but if you approach your practice with only fitness in mind, you might miss all the rest. So, when you come to your yoga mat, open yourself up to all that the practice can reveal about your mental patterns, emotions and even your weaknesses. That way, you can transform them.
2. Focus less on how you look in each posture and more on how you feel. Feel your way through your yoga practice. Leave no room for ego or perfectionism. Do your best to achieve your optimum alignment and depth, but also give yourself space to be, breathe and accept where you are. Align your mind with the moment, let go of vanity and work to find mind, body and spiritual freedom in each posture, rather than seeking perfection.
3. Let your practice be more of a surrender, and less of a struggle. All too often we push and pull ourselves into a posture. We fight for the pose. Instead of pushing your way into a posture or even thinking your way through it, step back into your breath and your softness so that you can feel balanced. Give to the asana (posture), but receive from it as well.
4. Hold an intention. Donna Farhi wrote, “In truth, it matters less what we do in practice than how we do it and why. The same posture, the same sequence, the same meditation with a different intention takes on an entirely new meaning and will have entirely different outcomes.” Before you begin your practice, set an intention or devote your practice to something (anything). If you have trouble coming up with something, simply ask yourself, “What do I want from my practice today?” Know that no intention is too big or too small.
5. Find a new level of awareness. Use the asanas and the practice of yoga as a tool to see yourself (and your patterns) more clearly. Pay attention to any repetitive thoughts or emotions that come up during your practice. This will lead to awareness, and awareness leads to change.
6. Don’t give up. As the saying goes, don’t give up just before the miracle. If you feel like you want to give up for any reason—don’t. You might just be a few breaths, practices, moments or steps away from transformation. Change and epiphanies are about to happen, so devote yourself to your practice and you will get to the other side.
Best of luck my friends! Namaste.
This article has also been published in Elephant Journal.
By Jackie Casal Mahrou
For the past 10 years, Jackie has been passionately teaching and practicing yoga in Denver, CO. Believing that yoga can awaken us to the vast capacity of our hearts, minds and spirits, her intention is to empower her students to live boldly and authentically. Jackie’s classes are a combination of enlightening inspiration, graceful movement, alignment and encouragement. Through her flowing sequences and heart centered intention she creates an environment for each student to blossom into his or her greatest expression of each yoga posture, and brightest self.
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