5 ways to energise your yoga practice
New year, new you: 5 ways to energise your yoga practice this January. By Eloise Leeson
2020: the year that lasted a century, right? If you’re feeling stressed out, drained, and tired, we hear you!
The days are short here in the Northern Hemisphere, the nights are long (and cold) and the glimmer of a new year seems pretty far away.
But in just a few short weeks, we’ll be in 2021 – a beautiful blank canvas of a year for us to enter into with love and compassion.
Yes, we’ve got lots of work to do — we’ve still got a pandemic on our hands, and our world remains in need of emotional and environmental healing — but if we all start small by nurturing our communities, good things add up.
With that said, we also understand that your yoga practice and your community are maybe feeling a little lacklustre – so here are five gentle ways you can revive your spirits as you teach yoga in 2021 to make a positive difference right where you are.
1. Dream big, and start small
Progress, not perfection, isn’t that the motto? We think it’s a good one – with a caveat! It can get discouraging to not see an end product or result from all the work you’re putting in on your practice, so here’s a question for you. Are you making your progress too hard to measure by not looking for it in the everyday activity?
Have a think about how far you've come in 2020 alone. Take the time to reflect, brew yourself a cup of tea, find a blanket, light a candle, and grab a journal and pen. Now, sit down and just think back over everything that you have accomplished in 2020 (just making it through is a big one!).
Even if it is just breathing with intention, look forward to 2021 and visualise what you would like to welcome into your life. Consider how you can positively impact yourself and others, and don’t be afraid to dream big! Now you have those wonderful goals (your BHAGs*, as lululemon used to call them!) – you need to break them down.
Just as you would progress gently through a series of poses, you also want to progress gently on the road towards your goals.
Another thing to consider: some of the goals that you think of might not actually come from your innermost being. You may find that the goals there are, in fact, goals that someone else has dictated to you or that you've absorbed through social media.
Make sure when you sit down and really meditate on what you want to achieve that you're thinking about the truest place in yourself. You’ll be more likely to achieve a goal if it’s an authentic desire that comes from that still, calm centre inside you.
2. Deep breath(work)
Another great way to really revive and deepen your yoga teaching practice is to tap into your breathing, and that of your students.
Now, obviously, we're still in the middle of a pandemic, so maybe you are doing this online and are not necessarily breathing over one another in person! When you teach yoga online, it can be tempting to think that you can't do everything you would do in a normal studio, but that’s not completely true.
Yes, you can't do hands-on poses, and inversions on Zoom might be a bit risky. And no, you can't perhaps release people's shoulders in Savasana. Despite this, you can still help people with their breath work.
Whether you work on ujjayi breath, kapalabhati breath, or anything else, (bringing-awareness-to-your-breath) this dedicated focus will help your students to find new depth in their yoga practice.
By helping students become familiar with these techniques, they will be able to use the gift of breathwork to improve life at home, at work, and (obviously) on their yoga mat.
3. Check your conversation
One of the things that happens to us as yoga teachers is that we often get into a real rut when it comes to planning or crafting a yoga class. Frequently, we can find that we wind up saying the same thing over and over again with our students.
What happens? Well, after time, they just tune out. Think about it! When you've been in the same yoga class maybe two or three times, you may notice there’s a script that the teacher is running through and your mind starts to wander.
The human brain loves novelty – so if you find that in that class, set to that script, that you're just starting to tune out and go through the motions, you’re not alone! But as a teacher, falling back into a script is the last thing that you want to do, especially when you're teaching yoga online. Your voice is one of the most important tools you have when your (https://www.ommagazine.com/yoga-24-7-the-best-online-yoga-studios) yoga class goes virtual.
If you really want to change things up for your students, think about the language that you're using.
Try recording and playing back certain classes, and see if you can't find any similarities or repetitions in what you're saying. Do you rely on the same cues? The same phrases? Sometimes it can be really helpful to ask for feedback here too, to find if your students feel that what you're saying is really landing with them.
There's nothing wrong with changing what you've done previously, or being inspired or drawing inspiration from other places – as long as you make sure you do it in a way that's true to you. Your students love you for who you are, remember?
4. Trust your struggle
A quick disclaimer! This might not be something you want to think about after the year we’ve just had, but there will be rough times too in 2021.
It would be remiss not to talk about it, and for us to go blithely skipping off into the new year without thinking that there might be tricky patches ahead.
We’re not saying this to bring you down in any way. What we are saying is that the more we can make our peace with struggle, the better we can handle it when it does come around.
The only certainty is uncertainty, but by mentally preparing for tough times, we are better able to respond to them, rather than reacting.
Of course, no one could have predicted that 2020 would be the year of the pandemic – and really, this is proof that the unexpected does happen.
We’re not advocating that you drown yourself in worst-case scenarios, but instead view the difficult days, the tough classes, and the hard times as (https://www.ommagazine.com/daily-gratitude-never-grows-old) learning opportunities, and fertile ground for trying new things.
You might just find that rock bottom becomes the strongest foundation you’ve ever laid.
5. Think beyond your studio
As a yoga teacher navigating a pandemic, it’s likely that you’ve considered online yoga teaching. Learning to teach yoga online is a curveball for sure, and it’s one that everyone’s caught (or passed) in different ways.
If you do have an online yoga studio though, this one’s for you. You’ve already shown yourself that you’re a creative individual – thinking outside the box and seizing new opportunities.
But now you’ve got your virtual studio set up, and the new year has rolled around, what about thinking about how you can engage with and support your students beyond the virtual studio?
Yes, teaching on your mat will still take the lion’s share of your focus in 2021 – but what about crafting a monthly mailer of mantras and affirmations for your students? Or perhaps giving each month a theme word, and thinking of fun ways to engage people. A yoga book club sounds like fun, as do full moon meditation circles.
Yoga is a way of life, not just an exercise regime. Revive your practice by opening the doors of your life to yoga’s incredible influence, and watch as goodness unfurls.
New year, new you
However you choose to reinvigorate and energise your yoga practice in the new year, we’re wishing you the most positive start to 2021.
Have any of these suggestions resonated with you? What are your big dreams for next year? Here at OM, we want to know. Drop us a comment online, on social media or send us an email, and tell us what you’re doing so we can celebrate from afar.
Here’s to a happy, healthy new year!
*BHAGs – Big, hairy, audacious goals!