Do you know if you’re really making progress in your yoga practice? While everyone’s journey and sense of progress will be unique to them and their goals, there are a few key things that every yogi should evaluate from time to time in order to identify areas that could use some improvement.
Maybe you’re doing great with staying consistent, but you’re anxious to get your daily practice over with to feel that sense of reward. However you go about building yoga into your life, consider asking yourself the following questions in terms of how they relate to your own practice.
- Are you letting your thoughts in?
If you’re completely consumed by your thoughts during your practice, you’re not really doing yoga. Yoga is the cessation of the thought process. Detaching from the fluctuations of your mind will help you deepen your connect with your true identity.
- Are you practicing with joy and gratitude?
Your practice shouldn’t be treated like it’s a chore. If negativity is getting the best of you, you should do some honest investigative work to find out why. Are you being too hard on yourself with getting the postures right? Are you experiencing physical pain? If so, try backing off or switching things up to better suit your needs.
- Are you comparing yourself to others?
Yoga is perhaps the most personal journey you’ll ever embark on, but it’s also a collective one too, and sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing your progress to others who practice alongside you. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by how flexible or strong another person may seem. Focus on your own self-improvement.
- Are you being consistent?
Consistency is key to growth. You won’t get very far if you’re only practicing once every few weeks or so, or if you’re just going through the motions without fully investing yourself in the practice. Plan ahead by scheduling something you know you that you can maintain and feel motivated to take seriously.
- Do you practice both on and off the mat?
Yoga isn’t just exercise — it’s a way of life. You can meditate when you’re in transit on the bus, you can breathe deeply through a difficult decision making process at work, and you can express how grateful you are to have your spouse or partner in your life for no other reason than because you feel like it. Consider weaving your practice into the areas of your everyday life that are most important to you.
- Are you breathing deeply?
It’s part of the practice to take full, deep breaths of air known as “prana” — the life force of everything. When you take short, shallow breaths, you deprive your brain and body from the oxygen it needs to slow down your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and calm both the mind and body.
- Are you working on expanding your awareness?
Deep breathing plus detaching from thought will help you become more present and aware. It’s always a good idea to work on increasing your level of awareness while performing your asanas, while sitting quietly in meditation, and in everyday life situations as well.
Try journaling your answers to these questions maybe once a month or so, plus possible solutions for how to improve. You might be surprised by what you discover!
Image (edited) via Take Back Your Health Conference