5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Yoga Routine
Spring is the perfect time to clear some space, get rid of what’s not needed, and invite in something new. My yoga practice is not something that I typically consider spring cleaning, but as I was clearing out weeds and debris from my gardens yesterday, it occurred to me that even my yoga routine could benefit from some spring freshness. It’s always good to pause and take a closer look at anything we are doing on a regular basis. Being open, curious, and investigative are the best ways to stay purposeful with what we are choosing to do. Here are 5 ways to Spring clean your yoga routine:
Re-visit the foundations. No matter how long you’ve been practicing, it is always beneficial to rewind back to the basic pillars of practice. It’s common for practitioners to develop bad habits without even knowing. Seek out a basics or foundations class and aim to practice with a beginner’s mind. Open yourself up to un-learning, and re-wiring new foundational habits. Pick a couple of poses that you have questions about and investigate. There are so many great resources out there and you can always stay after a class to ask the teacher. Remember that your own experience will be your best, ultimate source of information.
Do an overall evaluation of how you are feeling physically. Have you been living with a nagging pain in your shoulder that you’ve learned to ignore? Do you have back pain that you keep pushing through? Practice some radical self-honesty and tough love with yourself here. If you do have any aches and pains, become your own anatomist and study that area of the body. Learn how that joint articulates. How do the bones move? Which muscles are working for certain actions? Educate yourself so that you can make better choices about how you are moving in your practice. Of course, you should always visit a physiotherapist or physician as needed, but be an active participant in your own healing. Stay informed about your own body. My book, Embodied Posture: Your Unique Body and Yoga is the perfect resource for learning about common injuries and how all of your major joints articulate and work with movement.
Evaluate any repetitive movements in your practice. How can you change them up? What postures do you do every time you practice? First re-visit the foundations and then consider how you can vary these postures slightly. Do you always lower to 90 degrees in Low Push-up? Try staying higher. Have you worn footprints in your mat from doing Warrior 1 & 2 the same way each time? Change it up. Do you always step forward with your right foot? Lead with your left. Your changes do not have to be radical. Minimal incremental shifts can make all the difference. If you are practicing in a studio, your teacher will be happy to see you being curious about your alignment. Remember that all of these yoga poses were just made up by someone! There’s nothing wrong with changing things up and finding your own way. In my opinion, this is the BEST way to practice.
Set a non-postural goal. I often hear practitioners saying things like, “this year I am going to nail Handstand.” These goals are fun to have, but consider refining another aspect of your practice. Here are some ideas:
Be more intentional with your breath.
Turn up your self-observation. Be more aware of your presence. Decipher between what it feels like to be in your body versus being somewhere else mentally.
Pay more attention to the transitions between postures.
Commit to setting an intention each and every time you practice. You could focus solely on gratitude, dedicate your practice to a loved one, or choose to invite in a quality you are desiring in your life.
Commit to self-kindness while on the mat. What thoughts or actions can you let go of that aren’t supporting this?
Create a new practice space. You know that fresh feeling you get when you rearrange your furniture? This is what we are going for. If you practice at a studio, this is easy. MOVE YOUR MAT. As a teacher and studio owner, it is interesting to watch habits and ownership develop around mat spaces. If you are one of those practitioners that arrives 30 minutes early, just so no one else gets your spot, I’m talking to you. Change it up. Practice letting go. Open up to something new. With a little time, you will learn to love the fresh perspective. For home practitioners, create a fun and funky space to lay your mat down. Even if it is just a corner of a room, make it a space you love. Add a few of your favorite things, make it inviting and fun so that it calls your name on those days that are more difficult to practice.
I hope this helps to spark some freshness in your yoga! Happy Spring :)
Author of Embodied Posture: Your Unique Body and Yoga
Co-owner and Director of Teacher Trainings with Yoga Project
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