Same Old-Same Old

Five Questions and Tips for Changing Your Approach to the Mat
from Tracey

Practice makes perfect, or so they say. But not if you're unconsciously doing the same old thing. In fact, doing the same ole thing, even consciously, sometimes requires a fresh approach. How's your approach to your mat? There are a number of questions it would be good to ask yourself the next time your start your practice. Here are some tips for breaking patterns.

Do you step onto your mat habitually time after time?

If you always start your practice standing, next time begin sitting or lying down. Seems like a no brainer, but it's amazing how we get stuck in a pattern.

Are you sleep walking through your practice?

If you practice a sequence regularly, throw in a day of intuitive practice. Or, try a new sequence that challenges you in ways your current practice does not, and also includes poses not in your regular practice. Step out a little, before you step onto your mat next time.

Do you practice the same sequence most of the time?

Having a balanced sequence that you love is great, and is also a way to reflect on how your poses, your body, and your practice change within that grouping. But differing your sequence can refresh your attention and your perspective. For example, if a restorative sequence is your thing, then step up the pace and challenge your stamina as a shift to your approach. Or, on occasion, engage in a sequence that challenges strength building in a safe and healthy way.

Do you go through the same rituals each time you step up?

Some people begin with a prayer, a chant, or an affirmation when they practice. Some with prayer position, a moment of silence, or a breath. Some people hit the music play button. And some people always start with tadasana or a salutation. For once, don't do the same ole thing.  Find a source of inspiration that draws your attention to the present in a way that is unique, but different for you. If you always use music to get you going, keep it off and use your breath. If you always begin with a salutation, then try a long, still approach, holding a single asana or portion of an asana. instead.

Do you have to talk yourself on to your mat?

So many people have to talk themselves onto their mat for personal practice, even when they love their yoga. If this is a common occurrence, don't step onto your mat the next time this occurs--and don't walk away with guilt. Take a walk instead. Or, sit down and do Shiva pranayama. If talking yourself onto the mat is too common of an occurrence, simply try lying down on your mat and breathing with no intention of an outcome. Or just do your practice anyway, stepping onto your mat with your self-talk, taking the first breath with total attention and then let your practice begin, free of judgment and full of curiosity and observation. The mind is a terrible thing to waste.