Amanda Johnson

Love the life you have and have the life you want

3 Ways to Turn Your Yoga Practice Upside Down

4 Comments

For many people, yoga is more than just a physical activity. It is also a mental and spiritual experience — often described as being quite meditative. But if you’re anything like me — and many other people I see and hear in my yoga class — it sometimes doesn’t feel that way.

Have you ever noticed that the much-desired zen experience feels more akin to frustration or defeat than to an enlightened state?

Well, the good news is that you can turn your yoga practice into a deeper, more enlightened experience by doing three simple things.yoga pose

I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for almost two years and it is amazing how it wasn’t until very recently when I realized that I could use these 90 minutes for more than just practicing the 26 postures and getting my body into shape. This was an amazing opportunity to strengthen my ability to be mindful and present.

As someone who loves to “get it right” and “be the best,” I struggled with turning my yoga practice into anything beyond pushing myself to be better, stronger, calmer and mentally beating myself up when I felt like I wasn’t living up to that.

Then I had a breakthrough. And I turned my yoga practice around 180 degrees by doing these 3 things.

Change the track I listen to in my head.

90 minutes is a long time to keep the mind from wandering off and getting lost in the top hits track of the day. My solution? First, I found when I focus deeply on the words the instructor is saying instead of boarding each thought train that raced through my mind, I remained more present. Secondly, I changed the track in my mind from saying things like, “this is so hard” or “I’m so hot” or “why can’t I hold this posture like I could yesterday?” to “I am here … in this moment … and in this moment … and in this moment” over and over again keeping my thoughts more constant and present and, therefore, being able to better listen to my body.

Change the mask I wear.

I can scowl and grunt and tighten up my face when the postures feel challenging or I can choose to keep my face relaxed and even squeeze out a smile during a challenging pose. By making this small shift, I allow myself to relax, breathe and stay present with my body in that moment. I also find that when I exert less energy on reacting to a difficult posture, I have more energy to give to that posture and it becomes easier.

Practice continuous compassion.

I remind myself that I am constantly changing and I am different each and every day. My practice today is going to be different than my practice two days ago. If I need to sit down or come out of a posture early today, that’s okay. And, if I can change the track in my head it is actually easier to hear what my body needs in each moment and then I can be compassionate with myself when my body needs something today that it might not have needed yesterday.

Whether you are an avid yogi or just a fan of staying limber, you can use your yoga practice to not only deepen your exercise of body and soul but also deepen your practice of living in the present. By doing so, your practice will enrich your life in more ways than you can imagine!

What do you do to make yoga a more meditative experience? Share your tips and tricks by leaving a comment.

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Author: Presence Matters

Amanda Johnson has one mission: to help people turn their critic into their ally so they can love the life they have and have the life they want. She does this through her work as a writer and presence coach. After years of struggling with depression, motivation and finding any purpose, Amanda made a choice to transform her experience of life. She realized that when she resisted, judged or attached to “what is” she suffered and that this is true for all of us. From this place, the idea to help others cultivate ease and joy through “Presence Matters" was born. Amanda is a seasoned professional with more than 10 years’ experience performing, educating, facilitating and consulting for Fortune 500 companies with the personal mission to reach and change lives for the better. Her passion for helping others—be it a 2nd-grader or a CEO—and her ability to connect with and inspire those she meets are unleashed by her wit, charm, and eloquence, making her message resonate deeply with her audience. For more information and to work with her, visit www.amandajohnson.tv.

4 thoughts on “3 Ways to Turn Your Yoga Practice Upside Down

  1. When I’m in yoga and holding a pose is particularly hard, I love to think about my muscles and appreciate their strength. I actually focus on the piece that hurts and try to give every breath to that area, with an encouraging mantra in my head that goes something like “thank you, strong shaking legs! You’ve got this. I give every breath of my being to support you.”

    Also, when things really hurt I try to make sure that I’m not actually hurting myself. I check in with my shoulders and back and core to make sure my form is supporting me and I talk to all the pieces and parts I have, rallying them to join in making that move possible.

    I’m not sure if talking to my body is totally “zen” but it does keep me in the moment and present and appreciating this vessel that I carry though the world.

    The continuous compassion I so agree with. My body is never the same and I just have to give what I have that day. I always always get something out of the experience even if it wasn’t an “award winning” session. Actually, I take that back! They’re all award-winning… I just get different awards each time 🙂

    Great post, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate Amber’s comments that go right along with your words, Amanda. Makes me want to start yoga. With these thoughts, I already have a strong foundation on which to benefit even more from it. Thank you.

    Like

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