Recently, my yoga world has overlapped with a style of yoga that I personally do not enjoy, though I completely understand it’s popularity. After 15 years of yoga, I like my practice to have depth and breadth, not just a sweaty, kickass workout via asana.
On a few occasions I have heard the instructors at the studio bragging on the students by saying, “They have a really strong practice!” At first, I figured that just meant they showed up and gave it their all, pushing beyond what’s probably healthy to make physical gains since there’s really no spirituality, little pranayam, or meditation instruction offered. But then, two of the instructors shared about one particular student who did 111 classes (mine was his 111th) in less than 100 days. “It’s totally changed his life!” is the exact words both instructors used. Now, I get this particular style of yoga uses scripts, but that’s kinda weird. Further, I don’t care what style of physical activity you do at 75 minutes a pop, you do 111 sessions worth in under 100 days it WILL change your life. Which got me thinking, what does make “a strong practice”?
See the asana practice of yoga is the gateway. It’s good stuff and if you do NOTHING else, it’s going to have some interesting, often profound, effects on your body, mind and soul. I am currently working with someone I talked into doing a combo cardio and yoga class being offered through his work. He took me up and has been doing it once a week. Last week, he sat across from me, crossed his arms and said, “So, tell me about the life benefits of yoga. You’ve already told me the health benefits, but what else does it do?”
I smiled because this is where I geek out. There’s a lot it does. It helps you feel and helps you process those feelings so you’re not so quick to try to hiding from or numb them. It teaches you strength, balance, flexibility, compassion (especially for yourself), how to trust yourself which often ripples out to others, boundaries, and how to be still and listen to what’s going on inside you. It’s funny, but I find when I am practicing regularly, shit doesn’t get to me as quick as when I’m not. I’m more tolerant, playful, relaxed.
When I really dive in and I am being mindful daily, practicing my breathing off the mat and not just during practice, I see even more benefits. I make better choices. My relationships are easier and more fun because I am in a better place. Even sex is better.
Getting to the mat is hard, but once you start practicing, getting into a good place is relatively easy. Staying in that place after you roll up your mat and go back to life is a whole different story. That’s where I think “a strong practice” can be recognized. Are you congruent? Are you walking your talk? Are you living your yoga? If so, you’ve got a strong practice. If you’re rushing to yoga stressed out, leaving blissed out, and returning to the stress within a short time of class ending, your practice ain’t there yet, dear.
This is something I am really passionate about. It’s why I created a 12 week signature coaching program to help people integrate their yoga into daily living. You can learn more here. If you’d like to have a conversation to see if this is a good fit for you, book a 30 minute session on me right here.