What makes a strong yoga practice? With so many amazing, beautiful yogis on Instagram wearing expensive leggings, doing handstands and putting their legs behind their head in front of a gorgeous waterfall, we can be left feeling, well, less than adequate in our own yoga progress.
While there’s nothing wrong with posting photos of our most advanced asanas on social media (it can actually be very inspiring!), it has the potential to perpetuate an illusion that if you’re not “there” yet then your practice isn’t good enough.
So here is your gentle reminder that “good enough” is not a thing in yoga, and perfecting any asana doesn’t promise peace and enlightenment. It also doesn’t even mean you’re “good” at yoga.
Because the pose was never the point to begin with. The aim of yoga, really, is to calm the distractions of the mind, and to remove the accumulated layers of falsehoods we’ve learned to be truth. It’s a stripping away of illusions so that we can see clearly and live in our purest form. Yoga is a practice of discernment, presence, courage, and peace.
It sounds intense. And it is! But in reality, the actual act of practicing yoga is simply the effort of bringing the mind into focus. Of course one example is your asana practice. But, in another instance, it could be you’re focusing on taking full, deep breaths in an effort to stay present and calm while your toddler throws a full-blown tantrum in the middle of the grocery store.
So, that being said, what makes a strong, amazing yoga practice? Here are three tips that, when taken to heart, will surely aid you on your yoga journey.
Consistency: Let’s just be honest, in order to see the real health benefits of yoga in your body, mind, and heart, you have to be dedicated to practicing. Regularly. For a long, long time. You have to be in it for the long-haul if you want the deep-seated results that yoga can bring you. This is so important! Because, look, that sweet honeymoon phase of your daily yoga practice eventually fades into just a part of everyday life. You will struggle to make it to your mat for a multitude of reasons. You’ll go through seasons of inspiration and excitement as you learn new poses and concepts, followed by phases of boredom and resistance. But if you can commit, even during the difficult times, you’ll come out the other side so much stronger.
Adaptability: With all the struggles of keeping a consistent practice, adaptability is key. Yoga needs to support our wellbeing. By practicing in a way that brings joy, peace, balance, and health into our lives, our yoga practice will will give us what we need to stay resilient. For example, if your job requires you to sit in a cubicle all day, your yoga practice would best serve you if it focused on strong movement, building a sweat, and bringing mobility to the spine, hips, and chest. On the flip side, if you just gave birth and are up all night with a newborn, taking part in a gentle flow style or restorative yoga class might feel more beneficial. A strong yoga practice is one that continues to serve you throughout the different phases of your life, regardless of the poses being done. As life transforms, the yoga practice should also shift in such a way that continues to bring balance and clarity into focus.
Yearn to Learn: Keep an open mind. The moment you think you know it all is the moment you need to drop everything you think you know. To have a strong, beautiful, efficient yoga practice you need to stay curious and humble. Your knowledge will evolve as your practice does, and you always need to go back to re-evaluate what you’ve learned. Listen to other points of view, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Actually, don’t take anything too seriously! Explore, play, stay curious, and have fun with it. If you become too rigid in your practice, you’ll miss the whole point of it.
Taking these three tips to heart will give life to your practice. Your yoga will begin to flow with you through the ups and downs, and keep you sustained and supported the whole way. There’s no need to burn yourself out or compare your progress with someone else’s. The secret to an amazing yoga practice is to show up for yourself every single day, exactly as you are now, with love and presence, patience and faith. That is true strength.
Sending you support wherever you are on the path back to your truest self! See you on the mat. <3