1. Expand your experience
With each day it seems there’s a new yoga style. Though all physical forms of yoga fall under the hatha umbrella, some styles are more physically demanding like ashtanga or Forrest yoga while others offer a blend of different disciplines like acroyoga (acrobatic and partner-based) or SUP (stand-up paddling) yoga. Each time a you roll out your yoga mat a new experience is waiting. Trying different yoga styles can bring new insights to yourself. Different styles approach asana differently; sequences can be created in various combinations using a variety cues resonating and expanding your yoga experience. Read Which Style of Yoga is Best for You to learn of different styles you may want to try.
2. Add to your knowledge base
Your yoga practice isn’t a static entity. It grows, changes and develops. Signing up for workshops, intensives and/or conferences gives you the opportunity to add to your yoga knowledge-base. For example, delving deeper into a particular category of asana in a workshop gives you the tools to fine-tune your physical body as it relates to itself and to space. Intensives usually run several days and offer exploring and discussion of a topic fully. The interesting aspects of the energetic body—chakras, energy channels, bandhas—can be described and discussed at length in an intensive. The complexity of the chakras is evident in a list compiled by Expressions of Spirit. Conferences give participants the opportunity to sample from a wide variety of yoga topics. Searching on yoga conference will bring up an extensive list with local, national and international options. The atmosphere can vary from festive to corporate.
3. Add props
Everyone needs a hand every once in a while. Props—basics like blocks, straps, blankets—will assist and facilitate your practice. Every body is different and each time on the mat is a new experience. Ignoring these truths increases the chance for injury. There is no room for ego in yoga. So set aside your pride and use a block (or two or more) if it will improve your alignment and/or increase stability.
4. Enhance environment
Yoga is available to everyone, yoga studio or not. Practicing yoga doesn’t require a lot of equipment or gear. In fact, in a minimalist’s approach, a simple cotton towel and some uninterrupted time might be sufficient. If yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self it’s essentially about experiencing the connection and relationship of you to Life. Humans experience Life through a variety of sensory stimuli. Why not incorporate sensory elements in your home practice? Include sounds; flowing water in a table-top fountain or music. Music is similar to yoga in that there are so many styles—taste is subjective, so explore different rhythms, voices, instruments. Add warm, soothing lighting—as well as scented candles—if natural lighting isn’t available. Infuse your yoga space with essential oils. Essential oils provide health benefits of their own. Natural News shares some of the many uses and benefits of essential oils. Support the development of full, complete breaths integrating plants into your yoga environment. Plants take up carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce oxygen (O2). Certain plants can act as filters cleansing formaldehyde, a known toxin and endemic in indoor spaces, as well as other harmful chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals the many products and/or processes connected with formaldehyde. Read here for a list of the best air-filtering houseplants.
5. Extend your practice
Yoga practice isn’t only confined to the time spent on your mat. Bring a sense of
purpose to your practice off the mat through intention setting. Setting an intention is
different from a setting a goal. Goals are finite events, once the goal is met there is no more
effort required. An intention is an ongoing process, a process of mindfulness to living in the
moment; causing yourself no harm, and treating yourself and others with loving-kindness
and compassion. On Set Higher Standards, Ravi lists possible intentions for
“Today my intention is to….”
- …be an outstanding example for others
- …see the humor in every situation
- …stay present
- …relax and have fun
- …see the best in everyone
- …focus on doing what matters
- …serve without expectation
- …to give it my best effort, nothing more and nothing less
He notes setting an intention gives you the ‘opportunity to create a positive meaning for the time and effort spent.’
Adding these will create positive meaning, a deeper understanding and an acknowledgment of the time and effort spent practicing yoga.