Yoga poses are challenging enough by itself. But maybe even more challenging is listening to your body when it hits its boundaries, while your head mumbles: ‘You can do better! Maybe go deeper, let’s try.’ This goes for yogi’s of all levels. All our bodies our different and so is our strength and level of flexibility. So how do we go deeper into our yoga poses safely?
We give you several tips to safely improve your practice. But remember: be patient with yourself. Yoga is a lifelong practice, so you have aaaaall the time. No need to rush things.
1. Know your body
Obviously a key factor in practicing yoga. But especially when it comes to improving your practice without forcing it. To make sure you don’t cross your limits, keep feeling your body in every moment and every movement, very mindfully. If it hurst, back off a bit, especially with the knees. And always follow the breath, that tells you exactly when you go to deep into a posture.
2. Warm up
So important! Especially after a day in the office and you’ve been sitting for hours. Your body probably is a little stiff, so it needs some time to get into the flow. This is especially important if you have a ‘peak pose’ in mind, so you can work towards it. Good poses to start with is cat/cow, twists and of course the sun salutations.
3. Ask the teacher
If you don’t feel sure about the posture or you’re body is aching afterwards, let your teacher know. He or she can help you with adjusting so it feels better.
They are there for a reason, because it gives your body time to neutralize and decompress your spine while relaxing mind and body. And you can really feel the effects of your practice, the warm and tingling feelings (chi), which is really nice!
5. Less is (often) more
Of course it’s good to be ambitious and make sure you improve, but too much pressure works the other way around: it tightens up the muscles making it harder for you to reach a pose.
6. Use props
They are there to help you! They can help you transition into a deeper pose. For standingposes (blocks), stretches (straps) and backbends or hip openers (cushions).
The word itself means to lock, to hold, or to tighten. According to the ancient yogi philosophers if you master the locks, your master the yoga practice. They not only help you with balancing yourself, but also strengthen your body and help you get deeper into a pose. For example: when pulling in your Uddiyana Bandha, you get way deeper (and safer!) into your forward bends.
It’s your first, last and most important indicator to tell you if you’re not going to deep. When the breath gets more shallow or feels blocked, you’re crossing your own limits. You must hear the breath all the time. Repeat: all the time. It’s also an important tool to get you deeper into your asana, as it relaxes the muscles and creates space in the body.