Do you have a Type A personality—always busy, a real go-getter, pushing yourself to achieve goals at home, at work, and even at play? If so, my guess is that you could be transferring that goal-oriented mindset to your asana practice as well, and this may not be in your best interest. If you always focus on a vigorous asana practice, pushing yourself to exhaustion, perhaps feeling disappointed that you’re not as “advanced” as you’d like to be, you may not be experiencing the amazing benefits yoga has to offer. Yes, a good asana session can be a great workout, but yoga is so much more than that.
Yoga has the ability to help us bring balance to our lives. If you’re constantly striving and stressing about your performance in everything you do, let yoga be a break from that. I know it can be hard—it takes some surrender, some letting go. So I’d like to share with you a few tips for a yoga practice that can help create more balance in your life:
- Drop all judgments about the way you do the poses. Observe where you are at the moment rather than thinking about where you’d like to be. Where you are is what’s happening now. Enjoy it.
- Experience how the pose is affecting you holistically. Really take time to notice how the pose affects the different parts of your body.
- Observe your breath—is it smooth and even? If not, you may need to take a brief rest. How does your breath affect the pose—and how does the pose affect your breath? These subtle observations help turn your focus inward.
- Lessen the pace with a slower, gentler practice. Spend more time doing restorative poses and pranayama (yoga breathing). This is not time wasted; instead, it will calm your nervous system, bringing your body and mind back into balance.
- Make time for Yoga Sound Meditation. Because this form of meditation uses sound, and sometimes music, it’s much easier to practice than silent forms of meditation. It brings an inner peace and calm that is especially valuable for those who have a hard time relaxing and letting go. I invite you to practice along with me for just a few minutes, enjoying beautiful pictures of nature as you meditate.
While you may be reluctant to ease up on your expectations of yourself as you practice, just change them. Instead of making it about pushing hard, make it about softening, releasing, balancing. By taking the time to slow down, being open to what you see as you look inward, you’ll be able to use yoga to help you find greater balance in all aspects of your life.