I’ve been doing yoga for a year now and I can’t tell even begin to tell you how much I wish you would start it too! It’s the most relaxing activity I’ve ever experienced – but it’s also (sometimes terrifyingly) challenging and makes you as flexible as a cat (almost, no one can be as bendy as Princess Pippin)! One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to you is how do you get really good at it quickly. Well, apparently it takes 5,000-10,000 hours to become blooming brilliant at anything. I can imagine we’re talking the upper bracket here – yoga is tough, man! But there are things that make it easier – on your ego, your sore Gluteus Maximus and that carpet-burn on your nose (because I want to do a handstand RIGHT NOW).
5 QUICK METHODS TO BECOME BETTER AT YOGA
⚖ Study the theory
Learning about yoga is just as important as practising it. I’ve already mentioned my favourite yoga book being the Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen and another book that I keep close to my heart (and mat) is the Yoga Anatomy. Recently I’ve been reading the Modern Yoga Bible by Christina Brown (available from the 19th January – click here to buy) which is aptly titled the definitive guide to yoga today. It gives you an overview of just about every yoga position you can think of with a detailed description on how to perform it properly & safely. In addition to this you will also learn more about flows, the benefits of yoga and why it is so damn magical. Understanding all these things – especially when practising on your own at home is absolutely crucial and you have to be incredibly mindful of all your moves. Do as much reading as possible before diving in – that way you won’t get stuck after spraining your wrist during your very first flow!
⚖ Improve your fitness
Improving your fitness levels is always a good idea. For your everyday life but also for yoga. The stronger your core the closer you are to that perfect handstand. The stronger your legs the longer you will be able to keep your balance. Alternating between yoga & other fitness activities is what works for me – I do yoga, the occasional run & go to the gym. All of these compliment each other but if anything the more thought out my routine is the better & easier my yoga flows are.
⚖ Don’t be afraid to use tools
What, you can use something else than a mat? Oh yes, yes you can. Using different helping tools really makes yoga so much easier, safer and quicker to pick up. Use yoga blocks to ease your spine into different forward bends. Use a gym ball to prepare your back for the bridge. Use yoga socks & gloves to avoid slipping whilst arching your back in the downward dog. Use a resistance strap to stretch your legs. Next on my ever-growing list of things to try is the yoga wheel – as opposed to a gym ball it is sturdier and gives you more of a support when learning backbends and even holding your legs in a horizontal line when doing headstands. Have you tried a yoga wheel before? If so, which brand would you recommend to go with?
⚖ Make it your lifestyle
Yoga is kinda like going to the gym. But bigger. And touches a much larger chuck of your every day life. To see an improvement in your practice I recommend you stop looking at it as if it’s something you only do at certain times and places (like in a yoga studio or just in the morning). Yoga is a way of thinking, a way of breathing and a way of moving your body. Since picking up yoga I have started taking deeper breaths. Not just when knotting my arms & legs in awkward twists – my breath is deeper when I wake up, when I step outside of the house, when I’m eating a KFC. The moment I realised that walking tall with intention makes my body hurt less and flows easier I was completely sold.
⚖ Respect your limits
The process of learning is slow but the progress is nothing short of permanent. Once you start you can’t go back. You might stop practising your flows but the philosophy and to a certain degree also the flexibility will always be with you. Any sports I’ve ever tried had one in common – once I stopped even for 2 weeks it would feel like starting all over again. From day 1. I feel the very same about running (when that first km always feels like all hell breaking lose on you). I stopped exercising for 2 months in the past year – and you know what happened? I improved. I’m not saying stop to get better. I’m saying know your limits. I needed a break to settle my storming mind and once I fell back into place and started practising again, my body was stronger than ever. Don’t push yourself too far and know when to stop – and when to start again.