The inevitable plateau in your yoga practice is almost impossible to avoid. We are like little babies, absorbing every bit of yoga knowledge that is available to us in the beginning. New postures challenge us and we are fascinated by the peace that meditation brings. After a while, the poses that were once challenging become routine and you no longer feel like you are in the state of meditation. Slowly, our yoga practice slows down and we start to feel bored or frustrated. You may be asking yourself: What’s the point? What can I do to make better?
Don’t be discouraged if this is your reality. Yoga is a practice that allows us to challenge ourselves in new ways. You don’t have to be a veteran of yoga to reap the benefits. These tips are based on our many years of teaching yoga and interacting with the community. These are nine tips (plus a bonus at end) that will help you deepen your practice of yoga so you can reap its many benefits as your journey continues.
1. Tapping Into Your Subtle Energies
Many of us started our journey to yoga via asana (yoga postures). The heart-pumping Vinyasa sequences are what we love, as well as the energizing inversions. And the tranquilizing forward folds. As we move further into our yoga practice, it is important to shift our focus away from our physical bodies and yoga poses. Instead, we need to be able to concentrate our intention inward. To tap into our subtle energies, we need to focus our attention inwardly and watch our minds. Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) and pranayama, the fifth and fourth limbs of Ashtanga Yoga can increase our awareness, concentration, and sensitivity. Start incorporating pranayama exercises into your yoga practice, such as simple square breathing and gentle alternate-nostril breaths. Candle-gazing can be a great way to increase concentration and sense withdrawal.
2. Mantra and Mudra
A mantra is a sacred word, phrase or syllable used to support meditation or invoke divinity. The Gayatri mantra and Pavamana mantra are some of the most common mantras. Mudra refers to a spiritual gesture that is performed using the fingers, hands and body. Mudras can be used together with pranayama to stimulate various parts of the body that are involved in breathing and to alter the flow of prana throughout the body. Jnana mudra and Chin mudra are two of the most common mudras. Jnana mudra denotes knowledge or wisdom. Chin mudra represents the psychic gesture of consciousness. You can increase your psychic abilities, willpower and devotion by adding mantras and mudras into your yoga practice. It’s a great way to increase your yoga practice!
3. Do you practice ethics?
Sri Dharma Mittra’s famous saying “No Yamas, no Yoga” is well-known. Yama (ethics), also known as Ashtanga Yoga, is the first limb on the Eight Limb Path. Five Yamas are available: Ahimsa, Satya, Satya and Asteya. Brahmacharya is the right use of energy. Apraigraha is non-grasping. It is a great way to deepen your practice of yoga. Ahimsa can be practiced by being vegan, paying your taxes in a timely manner for Asteya and donating your excess clothing to local charities for Aparigragaha. You can expand your practice by practicing yoga asana for one to two hours each day and sticking to the ethics the rest of the days.
4. Cardio & Functional Exercises
Cardio can make yoga more effective and help you stay flexible. Even the most energetic Vinyasa yoga classes don’t have the endurance required for aerobic exercise like running, swimming, and cycling. You’ll find that your yoga practice will flow more smoothly if you have a better cardiovascular health. Take it outside to enjoy the fresh air and nature. Burpees, triceps dips, and squats can be useful in strengthening the muscles involved in yoga. While yoga will strengthen all of your muscles, functional exercises can target specific areas to balance out your body. Try the gymnastic rings. They will help you develop coordination, core stability, flexibility, and strength throughout your body.
5. Yin Yoga
Sometimes, the best way of improving is to take it down a notch. This is especially true with Yin Yoga. It has many benefits that cannot be found in other forms of yoga. The Complete Guide To Yin Yoga By Bernie Clark states that up to 47% body resistance is due to rigidity in the joints, followed by the muscles and fascia. Yin Yoga is a slow, deliberate sequence that involves holding poses for between 3 and 5 minutes. This is the best type of yoga practice for loosening fascia and mobilizing joints. You’ll notice a difference in your flexibility if you do Yin Yoga three times a week. Many yoga studios offer Yin Yoga as a part of their class schedule. For free Yin Yoga sequences, click here.
6. Study of Scripture
Many of us know that yoga is more than just a series of yoga poses and classes. The ultimate goal of yoga practice is to calm the mind and achieve Self-Realization. Svadhyaya, which means “self-study”, is often used to refer to ancient yogic scriptures. There are many sacred scriptures. Some of these include The Yoga Sutras and The Bhagavad Gita. Hatha Yoga Pradipika, The Upanishads, and The Bhagavad Gita. These yoga scriptures were written centuries ago and contain infinite wisdom from wise beings such as sages and yogis about how to achieve Self-Realization. You must read scriptural studies if you are serious about yoga and its importance beyond the yoga poses.
7. Karma Yoga
Karma Yoga is a yoga of selfless service, and skillful action. We can act selflessly and let go of our ego and be filled with compassion and love by putting our ego aside. If we don’t see the value of Karma Yoga, all that we do on the yoga mat will be futile. To be able to overcome mental afflictions and reach inner peace, you must serve others without expecting anything in return. Volunteer at your local charity, visit a senior home, give donation yoga classes, or just help around the house.
8. You can take a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training or an Advanced Teacher Training (or several).
Take our Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga course in Bali Thailand. This is a great way to start your yoga practice. You can also take advanced yoga teacher training if you are looking to improve your practice. There are many schools that offer short intensives or 300-hour yoga teacher training courses. These courses are great opportunities to dive deeper, whether you’re looking for a postural practice, yoga philosophy, or skilled teachings. Your learning is not limited to the hours. It is important to continue learning, practicing, and excelling in yoga.
9. Deep Relaxation
Yoga Nidra, also known by Yogic Sleep is the best method to eliminate impurities from the body, mind, and soul. Our bodies can hold a lot tension and eventually toxic substances build up in the energy channels. Yoga Nidra, a type of deep relaxation, involves intense focus on different body parts and visualization. It allows the prana (life force), to flow freely and transcends the boundaries of the mind and body.