Is your yoga practice getting a little stale? Maybe you’ve been going to the same class at the same time each week for the past year. Or perhaps you use a video — the same video — every day. If you’re finding yourself a tad uninspired to get on your mat, you might be suffering from yoga block. And I don’t mean a yoga block “prop,” although if you’re really in a rut then your practice may need a little propping up!
Invite the muse to visit you to regain your inspiration. Your practice may need a little injection of prana to get you psyched to practice again. As Willy Wonka says, “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”
The biological basis for the rut
Our minds and our bodies actually require novelty in order to continue to grow and remain stimulated. One of the reasons that cross-training is so effective for athletes is that it constantly re-challenges their body’s tissues to negotiate the different stresses from different types of exercises. Your mind and body may literally be deepening into an asana rut that is no longer helping you to remodel neurons, connective tissues, muscles and bones in a way that keeps your interest. It’s possible that your cells have grown “bored” because they are no longer being challenged.
But how can you ignite your creativity when so much of asana is repetitive in its form? Repetition is the nuts and bolts behind asana. You actually do have to keep doing the same poses in order to master them. But many yogis can get stuck in a rut, gravitating toward one approach or one set of poses or a sequence that permits no deviation.
A new approach to asana
So why not cross-train your yoga? This is actually why I created my own two-year video journey in my Yoga Tune Up® At-Home Program. I wanted to create a series that keeps your body guessing every day. I encourage you to pull yourself out of your rut by alternating a totally different approach on different days of the week. Here are some ideas for how to do it.
Video variety. If you do yoga primarily at home, one of the easiest ways to change up your practice is to shuffle around your yoga DVD collection. Don’t just use your newest videos — dust off some old covers and go for variety! One day be a power yoga “flow-ter” with Kathryn Budig, the next day try restorative poses with Barbara Benagh, follow that with a day of only Iyengar standing poses with Gabriella, then take a day to focus exclusively on your knees! How about a morning of Rodney Yee’s core work, followed the next day with an afternoon of pelvic priming hip-centric poses? That’s six days right there! Then take a day off to rest and recover. Whew!
Snow globe yoga: Shake it up! Inspiration comes in many forms. One of my favorite ways of practicing is to pick a pose, any pose, and then imagine that pose in a snow globe. I shake up the imaginary snow globe and let the pose land in any and every possible orientation. The pose may land on its side, its back, its front, on one foot, etc. Maybe I throw a few props into this imaginary world, too. Then I practice the pose.
You will learn so much about the components of your pose by changing its relationship to gravity. It is endlessly amusing and produces dozens of variations … many of which are even more effective for your body than the “classical” version! This satisfies the body’s and mind’s need for novelty, and will also teach you about the relationship between the muscles and tissues surrounding your joints in a given pose. Often we are unaware of how to use the many structures that are required to build integrity in a pose. When you “shake up” a pose, you shake up your practice, and your “yoga block” becomes a helpful prop rather than a hindrance in your evolving practice!
So pick a pose and get started! Here’s a series I recently did with Triangle Pose:
Staying fresh and excited about yoga ultimately boils down to being willing to see your practice — and your poses — as variable and interesting and as exquisite as real snowflakes: Even though they may all appear the same, look closer and you will see each one’s uniqueness.
Need more inspiration? Come practice with me in August at my Core Immersion at the Kripalu Institute to help step out of your yoga rut!