15 ways to deepen your practice in drop-in yoga classes
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Once you are no longer a beginner at yoga, you have the opportunity to take responsibility for your own practice even within a taught class. For this to happen you need to turn your focus inwards – here's how...
1. Connect with your breath. Observe how your breath moves through your body... Your breath is a point of focus, keeping you present. Does it flow freely? Is it restricted in any way? Sense the subtle sensations of breath, observe the spaces between the inhale and exhale. 2. Have a ‘beginners mind’ and find something new even in the most familiar postures. Every time you step on your mat your body will feel different 3. Get curious about what you are experiencing. Ask yourself 'What feels good in this pose?' 'Where do I feel it most in my body?' 'How can I make this more comfortable/more open/deeper/stronger/freer/softer?' 4. Observe: which hand do you use most often, on which foot do you lean more, which poses does your body welcome or resist? Observe your body, just notice. 5. Practice ‘non-attachment' Notice when you dislike a pose and try changing your attitude to one of equanimity (balance/acceptance).
6. Do less. Stay in the most basic form of a pose and spend time discovering more about the foundations. You don’t always need to complete the full pose – sometimes you can learn more and deepen your experience by doing less!
7. Go slow. connect with your body, breath and mind before you start to move, rather than rushing through and wanting the next pose to stop you getting bored! Find interest in the small details that you weren’t able to notice at an earlier stage in your yoga journey. 8. Set a personal focus/intention at the beginning of a class and work with this throughout. 9. Practise with your eyes closed, particularly in balances – this takes your awareness inwards and away from distractions, and adds a greater challenge
10. Use props sometimes, even if you don’t think you need them – play with them, see what benefit you can get from them. 11. Pick an area of the body and keep an awareness of it in every pose e.g. feet (even when they are off the ground), shoulders, etc. 12. Choose an attitude to practice with e.g. non-judgement; contentment; gratitude.
13. Extend beyond the body – feel into the space around you in every pose. 14. Focus on finding/keeping a strong foundation, whatever posture you are doing. 15. Use the yogic smile-monitor! Notice the expression on your face and release any tension. I invite you to respect and honour your yoga practice - its not just an exercise regime, its about a deeper connection with yourself and others.