It’s more important to do less more frequently. Try to find time to do a 15-20 minute practice every day as opposed to doing a two hour practice once a week. You want your yoga practice to become a routine, so it’s something that’s imprinted into your daily schedule. The benefits of a daily practice are so obvious that it will soon be a priority! Also, pay attention to things that may not be as valuable to you that you may be able to remove from your routine to make room for your practice; try to subtract something – maybe 15 minutes of TV?
Your Yoga Setting
It’s always best to have a designated place where you practice that is accessible and allows you to be consistent. It should be a place that you’re drawn to and that is convenient.
While my husband and I have our own yoga room, we also keep our yoga mats under the rug in our kitchen. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen so we find that it’s easy to just pull back the rug and get on the mat. When I need to focus on a specific class, I go to the yoga room, and close the door. But, either way, we practice in the morning because if we don’t, life takes over and chances are we won’t make it to the mat.
Martha Graham says that the most important and creative part of her day is making sure that she is in the taxi every morning at 5 a.m. She is then brought to her studio of four white walls and then whatever happens, happens! For yoga, it’s the same – just step on the mat every day and see what happens.
On your way to your practice, start to notice everything. Notice your feet when you’re walking, notice the colors, sounds and smells of the things around you. Sometimes we move so fast that our life becomes a blur. So mindfulness is not something that we only practice while in triangle pose. You don’t even need to leave your home to find something to focus on. You have your breath and that’s something that’s always with you. When you practice being in the moment, your reactions in the rest of your life will be transformed – whether it’s in a business meeting, a holiday dinner or during a disagreement.
Common Form Fixes
Sometimes students have too short of a stance in standing poses which ends up jamming the hips. Sometimes you do what feels good to the muscles but could be damaging to the spine and irritating to the nervous system like doing a forward bend after a series of backbends. The health of the spine and nervous system are too important to practice bad sequencing and misalignment.
Additionally, students think that more is better. This applies to anything throughout your practice; breathing, flexibility etc. Essentially, we are looking for more of the subtle aspects of merging mind, body and spirit. Range of motion is not the goal. The number of times that I have heard, “I can’t do yoga because I am stiff. I can’t meditate because my mind is all over the place.” Of course, that’s why you need yoga! Not to become more flexible, but to realize that it doesn’t matter. Although, fortunately, a side effect may well be more flexibility in mind and body.
How To Self Motivate
When you need a break, give yourself a break and just know that you don’t have to go twice as hard tomorrow. Not beating yourself up is part of yoga, although you still have to hold yourself accountable. Sometimes we don’t do our practice because we’re afraid to slow down and sit quietly with ourselves. Spinning out of control is useless to everyone.
Mastering Advanced Poses
Find an instructor that understands proper alignment and healthy sequencing. Realize that determination is different from discipline. Determination can lead to injury through force. Discipline requires patience and persistence. One day at a time.
One of the yoga masters of the century, B.K.S. Iyengar was asked by a student, “Will I ever be able to sit in hero’s pose?” He told the student to sit on large phone books and tear out a page a day. By the time the phone books are flat, he would also be flat on the ground. Our society is one of “I want it, and I want it now.” We live in a world of bigger, harder, faster and more. Let’s all hit the pause button and watch a cycle of breath and appreciate the fact that we are alive.
What’s Your Best Tip You’ve Ever Gotten Throughout Your Yoga Practice?
The best tip that I was ever given as a new teacher is to only teach what you know. Don’t try to fake it or teach something that is not deeply embedded in your body. As a student, I was asked the question, “where are you trying to get to and what do you think will be there when you get there?” In other words, enjoy the journey!
Did you miss our Facebook Live with Colleen? Watch her pro tips and more here.
Let’s hit the mat. Use these tips in your next session with Colleen in her Beyond The Ride Yoga workouts found on our app for the iPhone and iPad. Click here to download now.