As with all forms of exercise, please check with your doctor first for suitability and exercise at your own risk.
As a yoga teacher, I’m often asked: how do I get good at yoga poses like the girls in the yoga photos on Instagram?
Some of the pictures out there are pretty impressive, and I admire anyone’s desire to improve on their yoga poses. However, the ability to curl one’s body into a noodle isn’t what yoga is about.
So for those of us who haven’t conquered all the yoga poses, there is no need to lose heart. The thing we shouldn’t forget is that the people in the photos possibly worked for a long time to master each pose.
The other thing we shouldn’t forget is that advanced yoga is more about being present, and breathing correctly in a pose, rather than looking good. The seduction of getting the pose opposed to taking deep conscious breaths, is not the road to take. If I am not feeling up to it on the day, I will do an easier version of the pose if it means I stay more present by not losing the breath.
After meeting up with some lovely fellow bloggers last night and being reminded of the question: ‘How can we get good at yoga poses?’ I wrote this article for you.
- Less is best but done more often. Build up your practice gradually. At the same time stay fully present to each stage. Try to do a little each day rather than a lot once a week. I used to dream of mastering the headstand when I was younger. I thought it would change my life. However, the real blessing was the journey. Also, the high from getting the pose lasts just moments. The headstand though is my favourite pose. I have respect for the headstand as the journey into it, was never an easy one for me.
- Break the pose down. If you are struggling with a pose, break it down. A good yoga teacher will be able to design a class that will break down the pose into easy-to-follow stages. So for example, if you can’t do the Crow Pose, instead work on learning to squats first and also on poses that build upper body strength and engage the core. I will be aiming to post monthly breakdowns of seemingly difficult-to-do yoga poses. Watch my site for future updates.
- Stay full present at what you are doing. Presence is the simplest but often the most challenging road to happiness. To breath and stay present is the great yoga that can be accomplished. Meditation and walks in nature are good tools to help achieve this.
- Don’t forget the other limbs of yoga. The yoga poses are just one part. Therefore, your yoga will not be complete without honouring the other branches. Again I will break these down further in future posts.
- Pick one pose that you struggle with and make that your yoga to dedicate the time to. Work on it for a month or more until you get it. When I was learning to float down from plank to upwards facing I practiced every day for weeks using blocks until I had the strength. Read as much as you can about each pose and ask your yoga instructor to give you ideas on how to break it down as I said earlier in point 2 above.
So to recap: less is best, but less done daily rather than weekly. Awareness, presence and good breathing will help in yoga poses. Also, honouring all the limbs of yoga like non-violence and no attachment to the outcome will reduce the need to overachieve in the poses. Breaking difficult poses down in to stages helps a lot. Again, picking just one pose to work on outside your normal practice until mastered will get faster results. Then you can move onto the next, enjoying the journey on the way.
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For more inspiration why not check out my new yoga and meditation book The Busy Person’s Guide to Everyday Enlightenment This book is aimed to help busy people feel less stressed on limited time. Now on Amazon in paperback and also on Kindle, worldwide. Makes a great gift for a stressed loved-one!
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