I finally got around to writing this after writing the headline and tucking this away in my drafts for almost two weeks. But it is still something that is close to my heart because it’s something that many of us (including myself) struggle with especially on days when we are not too happy or satisfied with our yoga practice.
To me, it is important to learn to accept our own practice in order to improve both physically and spiritually. Acceptance of our practice, no matter where it is right now, will then bring about joy and playfulness on our mats. Having a desire to improve can definitely go hand in hand with self-acceptance in your yoga practice. Striking a balance between eagerness to learn and improve as well as accepting your vulnerabilities is vital and can go hand in hand together!
I have taken lots of photos of my yoga practices, and amongst them, there are countless photos of me falling out of a pose, looking clumsy, or just making very silly faces. These photos remind me to continue to have fun during my yoga practice and not take myself so seriously. It reminds me to have fun, unwind, and it reaffirms the fact that yoga is my little escape from the hectic pace of life. That allows yoga to be my relief.
If you have been struggling with your yoga practice, no matter whether it is physically or mentally, here are some tips that I have:
1. Acknowledge your vulnerabilities
The first step towards accepting your practice is to acknowledge your vulnerabilities. Are there certain poses that you constantly struggle with? Do you have a fear of falling out of your inversions? Or do you have really tight hips and struggle with hip openers?
When you write down your vulnerabilities on a piece of paper, always remember that language is important. Here’s an example:
My hips are so tight I will never get my splits or a king pigeon pose. I hate hip openers so much.
Work in progress: Hip flexibility! Hip openers may not be my favourite but as long as I persevere I will definitely improve!
Making the consistent effort to use a more positive language to talk about your weaknesses is a great way to reframe your mindset about your own practice. In fact, apply this to describing parts of your body that makes you feel insecure, and you’ll be amazed how that does wonders for your self-image and self-esteem. <:
Bonus tip: Besides writing your vulnerabilities down, change them into targets and start planning on how to achieve them! For instance, if you are working on your inversions, write down some of the poses that can work your upper body and core, and incorporate them into your daily practice. Find YouTube videos that help to prep you for your inversion. That way, you transform your vulnerabilities into ways to deepen your yoga practice!
2. Celebrate your little victories
I have actually written another opinion piece here about how it is important to acknowledge your improvements and celebrate your victories, no matter how little or how insignificant you may think they are. It can be the first time you held a crow pose for 1 second; it can be being able to touch your forehead to your knee for the first time in your hamstring stretch, anything!
Write them down and paste them on the wall if that motivates you. Having a positive mindset and an upbeat attitude would do wonders and would help you through days when you feel that you are not very happy with your yoga practice today.
3. Smile in your practice
Smile and laugh a little! It may be something that seems really easy, but yet it is something that I don’t often see even when I go for yoga practice! Sometimes my yoga instructor has to remind us to smile especially when we are in difficult poses. Remember, it’s just yoga. If it’s tough, smiling through it will make things a little better.
So yesterday I went for a yoga class and totally face planted during my side crow, and then I rolled over and laughed out loud in class. I think this is something that we all should do. When you fall out of your pose, just chuckle at yourself, and then get back right into it. Being able to laugh at yourself is really important to take a step towards self-acceptance and accepting your yoga practice as it is.
And if you’ve been taking yoga photos, you should start smiling more now! <:
4. Stop looking at tumblr-perfect yoga photos
Sometimes photos of yogis in really amazing yoga poses strike us in awe, and even though it may really motivate us in our own yoga practice, sometimes it can make us feel inadequate too.
If you find yourself basing your own practice on these photos, just remember that it takes time to get there! Also remember that these photos are like a fraction of a second. If they make you feel more inadequate about your own practice than inspire you, it’s time to unfollow these blogs and clean up your dashboard! You don’t need to look at these photos to improve your practice <:
Every yoga practice is very individual. It’s your personal relationship with the yoga mat. So only nourish yourself with things that inspire you, encourage you, and motivate you.
5. Find a support group
By support group, I mean fellow yogis in the same yoga studio, or even online communities <: If you are a beginner, go to a beginner class and get to know more yogis and enjoy the practice with them. If you practice at home, there are also online communities on tumblr, Facebook, or even websites that have like-minded yogis whom you can share your interest with.
Most importantly, do what feels good for you. Sometimes you may find that these support groups or online communities are harming you more than helping you. Experiences differ for different people and sometimes it takes time for you to find people whom you can really relate with!
I hope this post is useful for those of you who may be struggling with your yoga practice, or may be feeling discouraged. Remember, yoga is always a journey, so remember to enjoy it and stop for awhile to smell the roses!