1. Attend a retreat, workshop or teacher training.
Okay, lets start with the most obvious way to deepen your yoga practice. Go on a retreat, participate in an immersion program, or attend a teacher training with a favorite teacher. Maybe try a new-to-you style of yoga like Bhakti Flow, Yin, or Ashtanga. If you feel ready to move deeper into your practice read my recent blog post about what it’s like to attend a yoga retreat. Yoga retreats and teacher trainings are life changing, practice changing, wall breaking awesomeness.
2. My favorite: Begin a meditation practice.
For those that are new to meditation begin with 5-10 minutes a day. There are many different types of meditation, explore them all: Mindfulness, Concentration, Transcendental, Japa, Mantra etc. Don’t limit yourself to one type. They all have benefits. To begin a meditation practice all you need is a comfortable seat. The most simple meditation technique is to simply witness the gentle tide of your breath. I like using the Insight Timer App for my meditation practice. Insight Timer has guided meditations (helpful if you’re feeling distracted or overwhelmed) and also a timer. Insight Timer also has a pretty substantial and involved meditation community.
3. Get familiar with Patanjali’s Yamas & Niyamas
Yep I said it. The yamas and niyamas are a guide to living a moral, yogic lifestyle. In layman’s terms the yamas are things not to do, while the niyamas are things to do. These are the first two limbs in Patanjali’s eightfold path as laid out in the Yoga Sutras. It takes a lot of courage to really look at ourselves and our lives as they relate to the yamas and niyamas. Don’t be afraid to shine that light. It will only bring you growth.
The Yamas (Restraints)
- Ahimsa: nonviolence
- Satya: truthfulness
- Asteya: non-stealing
- Brahmacharya: non-excess ie. moderation
- Aparigraha: non-attachment ie. non-greed
The Niyamas (Observances)
- Saucha: purity
- Santosha: contentment
- Tapas: self-discipline
- Svadhyaya: self-study
- Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender
4. Begin a Home Practice
Create a sacred space in your home for your practice. I live in a 1000 sq. foot duplex that I share with my husband, two dogs, and a cat… and I work from home when I’m not teaching yoga. Let’s just say it’s cozy. In our guest room I have created a space that feels almost sacred…. to be honest most days it needs a little to a lot of help, but it’s a work in progress. I ALWAYS have a mat down and props available. The room gets great natural lighting, I keep essential oils handy and I’m in the process of finding a small table to use as an altar.
Create a space for your home practice anywhere… even if it’s in your living room with your toddler running around or your pets sleeping on your mat. Only you know what you need when it comes to your practice, so give yourself the space and the time to explore.
5. Create a practice of gratitude.
Practicing gratitude is an absolute gift… and maybe one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Don’t get me wrong my life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but I do make it a point to practice gratitude multiple times a day and now it has become a habit. When I’m making dinner I find gratitude in the fresh, healthy produce in front of me and my wonderful partner that helps me prepare meals, the sweet puppy cuddles and kisses that I graciously receive everyday, my healthy, strong and capable body, the many teachers I have in my life (yoga instructors, friends, acquaintances, students, my partner), the list goes on and on. Tips for adding in a bit more gratitude: Anytime you’re by yourself take a moment to reflect on what you’re grateful for: in the car, brushing your teeth, in the shower, walking to work, beginning/ending your yoga practice, cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, doing laundry.
I hope you find these tips to deepen your practice helpful. I’m always here to support you if you have questions or need guidance.
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