International Yoga Day 2017: Take your yoga practice to the next level with these steps
Unless you are watchful, your yoga practice may get stuck in the cycle of only performing asanas and perfecting them
As the saying goes: ‘There's always room for improvement’, and this is true of your goals for yogic achievement too.
You can aspire to take your yoga practice to the next level, even if you do not harbour any intention of reaching the ultimate goal of ‘samadhi’. It is imperative to understand that to reach these stages is not easy and takes years and years of practice combined with a sattvik diet, healthy lifestyle, positive thoughts and lots more.
When you start with yoga, learning the forms, right techniques, and even remembering the names of the postures may seem the only thing on your mind. As you begin mastering the postures one after another, the urge to learn new asanas and even difficult, advanced ones may keep you going. However, unless you are watchful you may get stuck in the cycle of only performing asanas and perfecting them.
While performing asanas is an essential aspect of yoga, it’s just the preliminary stage. Asanas develop the habit of discipline and ability to concentrate, both of which are necessary for meditation.
The next stage is that of pranayama, which means control of life force through control of breath for attaining higher states of awareness.
It is then followed by withdrawal of senses to avoid any distraction, and next — by concentration leading to the stage of meditation.
Below are a few tips to take your yoga practice to the next level:
1. Challenge yourself: The idea is to improvise. Challenge yourself with advanced routines and postures. It will be difficult initially but once you’re on the path, every hurdle will be a cakewalk.
2. Shift your perspective: If you practise in a studio regularly, it might be advisable to change the environment. Try doing yoga in natural surroundings. You are likely to feel much calmer and one with nature.
3. Close your eyes: Keep your eyes closed whenever you can comfortably do so. It will help focus your attention internally, which in turn will make you more aware of your breathing rhythm and evoke your senses. This internal guide is the best teacher you will ever find. During your next yoga class, try not to look around and evaluate other students. Instead focus on yourself and let your inner teacher emerge.
4. Hold poses longer: Gain better strength and stamina by holding your poses beyond just a few breaths. This may be difficult in a class setting where the pace is not set by you, but works great for a home practice. Set aside some time at home to practise and hold so you can maximise the benefits of each pose.
Mickey Mehta is a leading holistic health guru
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