By Katie Oriel
Ever thought about giving yoga a try? Or perhaps you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut with your current practice and wondering how you can take things to the next level?
We’re delighted to publish this guest blog full of expert tips and advice from yogi extraordinaire, Katie Oriel.
In the last few years, yoga has seemingly been at the top of everyone’s to-do list. From office workers and athletes to politicians and actors, everyone is doing it. So why is it something that’s worth spending your time, and money, on?
For me, I began practising yoga almost by accident. After a crazy day at the office and a long period in a rather difficult place emotionally, I found myself at a yoga class. Whilst being talked through a sequence of poses, my teacher spoke of something far more profound than a downward facing dog; he spoke of self-acceptance. It was at this moment that I realised that yoga is so much more than a set of poses.
It’s probably fair to say that many people’s objectives in pursuing yoga are about physical development, but for others, the perfect handstand is not the goal. Instead, a journey of self-inquiry and personal development is what brings them to the mat.
As an enthusiast turned instructor, I’ve learned a few things about making the most of your yoga practice to really engage with the important benefits that it offers. So whether you’ve been enjoying yoga for years or are completely new to the discipline, here are some ideas about how to further your yoga practice.
Controlled breathing calms the central nervous system. As you find yourself going into a pose it is your breath that tells your body that you’re in a safe place. It is your breath that allows you to deepen the posture whilst staying totally mindful of the present moment. Don’t rush, and allow your breathing to take you to new phases of your postures.
Accept where you’re at right now. Chasing poses that you’re not ready for will only invite injury. Instead, allow yourself to explore strength and flexibility at a comfortable pace. Remember, sensation is okay, but pain is not. If you’re in pain, take it back a notch and reside comfortably in a place within the pose that is more easily accessible.
Get your friends and family involved. A sense of sharing and togetherness can really help you develop greater levels of motivation and interest for the discipline, while also creating a feeling of belonging that you and your friends or loved ones can enjoy together.
It is easy to get stuck during your pursuit of yoga, especially if you’re repeating the same sequences, or practising with only one teacher. Find inspiration from other teachers, different classes and your fellow yogis to help you get out of the rut that we can too easily fall into.
Like with most things in life, consistency is the key. Even if you can only find 10 minutes to get on your mat each day, do it. Keep practising and the benefits will come to you.
The beautiful thing about Yoga is how many different styles there are to suit your mood, ability and cravings. A dynamic yoga class (dharma, power, vinyasa, mandala) will push you to your limits, make you sweat and allow you to explore your body and its capabilities in both strength and flexibility.
A calmer and slower class (Yin or Restorative) will invite you to slow down and to become meditative in your practice by holding poses for prolonged durations; allowing your focus to reside almost entirely on your breathing. Whatever your flavour there is a class out there for you.
Between sweat-inducing poses and muscle-burning flows that help you develop discipline and determination, you’re invited to turn inward; to step out of the worries of past and future and, given the opportunity, to step into what’s going on in your body and mind right now.
As Eckhart Tolle would say, “life only exists in the now”, so jump on in!