Whether you practice yoga in a class environment or at home by yourself, there is always the need and desire to push your body farther in any asana (pose). In order to do this, you must make sure that you are safe with your body and don’t push yourself past the point of a little ‘discomfort’ into pain or ultimately an injury.
How can you tell if you are ready to push farther in an asana, or that you are doing it the right way? Here are some tips that include the best ways to push deeper into your yoga practice.
Listen To Your Body
No one knows your body the way that you do, so listen to what it says to you. It is important to pay attention to your body throughout all the stages of your practice; before you start, during, and after you have completed your time on the mat. A great way to push that little bit farther in a pose is to stay in that pose for a while before you make the extra effort. By waiting it out a bit, your body isn’t shocked into you pushing past its comfort zone.
Take It Slow
Sometimes we go directly into Downward Dog before a proper warmup. First try flowing through Downward Puppy and adding in a few extra Child Poses for a great way to ease your body into a more challenging position. If you are eager to try Chaturanga with push up, try working your body through all the stages of a plank before you commit.
Say Hello To Props
Some believe that the use of a prop, such as a block or a strap, is only meant for beginners. It is equivocally untrue. Props are useful to help the yogi reach poses that might otherwise be too difficult and to train the body to push that little bit farther.
A block, for example, might just be the support you need to lift your back higher in Bridge Pose or to help give you more balance when trying to hold Half Moon.
Straps are also a great way to reach that little bit farther; whether in King Dancer or Seated Forward Bend, the options are endless and a great help at all levels.
For Every Pose, There is a Counter-Pose
There is a reason that Cat and Cow are coupled together, it is because it allows for movements to mirror one another, and your body can counterbalance the effects of one pose with another. Your instructor directs your poses to flow in a certain order for a reason. It allows you to not overly stress muscle groups, allowing them a chance to rest in between. Don’t forget to apply this technique if you are practicing at home.
Don’t Forget Your Breath
Sometimes when we are so desperately trying to reach a pose, we do the one thing that hinders us the most: we hold our breath. Breathing cues within a class are there for a reason, your ‘in breath’ is there to draw in energy for your asana, and your ‘out breath’ is there to create more space.
Breathing in allows for you to straighten your pose and breathing out allows you to stretch farther within the pose. Take your time with each, and you just might see your fingers inching that little bit farther.
Keeping in mind the above is a great way to progress with your practice of yoga and each of the asanas. Along with these suggestions, practice makes for better results, so keep it up regularly, and you will deepen your poses and confidence.