If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, it’s very likely that you’ve run across a few postures that just feel stuck. While it’s true that range of motion in some postures can be limited by your physiology, I think that you’ll find that many limitations can be overcome with some good planning and perseverance.
Not sure where to begin? Then follow these six steps to accelerate your transformation!
Tip # 1: Set goals for your practice.
Do you want to focus on better alignment in your poses or is it your goal to touch your feet to your head in deep backbends? Since each of these goals requires a different methodology, clearly defining what you are working toward will make it easier to determine what types of techniques you should use to get yourself there.
Tip #2: Analyze what types of things are preventing you from meeting your goals.
When a posture feels stuck, determining the nature of your limitations can be very helpful. If you are not able to make progress in a posture, try to determine what it is that is inhibiting growth. Do you need to build strength to accomplish the pose or is it flexibility that’s lacking? If you don’t know, check in with your yoga teacher to see if they have some insights to share.
Tip# 3: Create a personalized practice plan that will help you address your challenges.
Once you have determined your overall goals and limitations, create a 45 minute to one hour practice routine designed to counter any perceived imbalances. Make sure to include poses that will strengthen your weak areas and stretch the areas in which you are limited. Keep in mind that most strength and flexibility routines need to be repeated at least twice per week in order to have a positive training effect, so plan on practicing this routine at least two to three times per week.
Tip #4: Work major ranges of motion every other day.
Doing the same exercises every single day can lead to imbalance, muscular exhaustion and injury because your muscles don’t have time to rest and recover. To avoid this, give your muscles time to rest by focusing on backbending practices on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Then, switch things up on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays by focusing on hip and hamstring stretches.
Tip # 5: Be consistent.
This is the singular most important part of reaching your goals. If your practice is sporadic, you will have a hard time making any progress. To set a rhythm, choose a consistent daily time to practice and stick to it. Transformation takes time, so repeat your weekly practice routine for at least three weeks before switching to another. Remember, it’s better to practice a little bit every other day than really hard once or twice per week.
Tip #6: Journalize
Journalizing creates accountability. To do this, get a small notebook, and create six boxes– one for each day of the week. Give yourself a + for every day that you practice, and a – for those days when you skip out. Jot notes down for every practice recounting what went well and what areas there are to improve upon. Be gentle, but honest. Adjust your practice plan as necessary based on your journal and practice experiences.