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Powerful Ways to Take Control of Your Yoga Practice

By Sheila Johnson, ZENthusiast

Growth is a vital part of any yoga practice, but sometimes the way forward isn’t clear. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of advice that’s out there. Fortunately, the answer is simpler than you might expect: the best way forward is the solution you craft yourself.  Here’s how to build an empowered, deliberate path forward with your yoga practice.

Figure Out Your Goals

As VerywellFit explains, yoga can bring you many different benefits, such as increased strength and flexibility, lowered stress, improved mood, and a sense of oneness with yourself and the universe. With that in mind, ask yourself what you most want out of yoga right now.

Try to pick a narrow focus; Specific goals, such as “I want to find stability in a headstand” are more achievable than broader goals, like “I want better balance.” A specific goal now doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t achieve other things along the way, nor does it mean your priorities can’t shift over time. Life is full of change, so be sure to check in with yourself periodically to update and refocus your motivation.

Craft Your Personal Yoga Environment

The more often you can practice yoga, the better, but frequent classes can add up quickly. That’s why it’s important to have a place at home where you can study poses and flows in peace.

Practically speaking, you want a place with plenty of floor room, and a door you can shut so roommates or family members know you’re in the zone. Décor, aromatherapy, and peaceful music can also go a long way toward making the environment conducive to a productive practice session.

Try to make sure a few elements of this environment are portable so that you can recreate them if you’re traveling for work or on vacation, or just want to snag a practice while you’re on lunch break. For example, you can bring your oil diffuser with you on the road, or use a portable media player to stream music or instructional videos as you practice -- all of which are compatible with most TVs. Bringing your headspace with you will make staying on track easier when your routine is disrupted.

Find a Teacher You Trust

Yogi Times notes good teacher can make all the difference when it comes to your yoga practice. If you can’t trust your instructor’s advice, you’ll wind up holding yourself back with it comes to trying new things. If you have a local teacher you connect with, focus on developing that relationship. Ask questions, seek advice, and let them know your goals so that they can guide you toward success.

Thanks to apps like Yoga Wake Up and websites, you don’t have to limit yourself to the teachers available in your area. Try out different online instructors, and noting those who explain flows well and resonate with you. Following along on your phone or tablet allows you to push yourself toward fresh goals, like new poses or holding oldies-but-goodies longer.

Connect With Your Body

Finally, make sure you focus on ways to connect with your body as you practice. Some forms of exercise encourage you to, at least on some level, disconnect from your body – you’re told to run a little farther than your body wants to or to push a bit harder than you think you can. Although you should focus on ways to expand your limits, in yoga that expansion is always rooted in strong body awareness.

There are several ways to enhance the mind-body connection in your yoga practice. For example, try practicing barefoot, and really focus on all the points where your feet connect with the ground. Spend a little bit of extra time in each pose, and practice mindfulness body scans to see where you’re holding unnecessary tension. A mindful approach allows you to improve with respect to your body’s needs.

By taking the advice you get from teachers, apps, and other sources and synthesizing that with your own goals, you can personalize your journey forward. At the end of the day, it all comes down to you, and how your mind and body come together to achieve amazing things.

Sheila was a success story in the corporate world, but her health was another story. She left the corporate world to start her own business, on her own schedule. The newfound freedom and flexibility enabled her to prioritize her health by practicing a daily self-care routine. Learn more about Sheila at wellsheila.net.