8 ways to shake up your yoga practice

Is your yoga practice stuck in a rut? Worry not - boredom, lack of motivation, procrastination...it happens to the best of us. Here are some suggestions to help you shake up your practice and remember why you fell in love with yoga in the first place.

Partner boat pose yoga practice

1. Revisit your intention

Ask yourself why you practise yoga? Maybe it鈥檚 helpful to try and remember what brought you to it in the first place. Has that motivation changed or evolved? What does yoga give you that other sports or movement practices don鈥檛? How could what you do on the mat better reflect that?

Writing down the answers to these questions may help you to clarify your individual Sankalpa (intention). You could even write down a specific word or short sentence and place it near your mat to help you keep your intention in mind.

2. Change where you practise

Much has been written about the psychology of sitting in the same place. In class I habitually sat in the bottom left hand corner of the room. When, one day, I was forced to move my mat because someone else was sitting there (how dare they!), suddenly I was much more aware of other people around me. Balances became wobbly, my gaze began to wander, my 鈥榖rain chatter鈥 was louder…In other words, my internal focus had to work much harder to counteract the distraction of the 鈥榥ew鈥.

So, if space allows, move your mat to a different room, practise near a window, go outside. If you can鈥檛 move your mat just try facing in the opposite direction. The external view may just refresh the internal focus.

3. Try something new

Any long term relationship can have its ups and down. Our relationship with yoga is no exception. It can be easy to take our practice (and our bodies) for granted and for what we do on the mat to become habitual, rather than mindful.

If you find yourself returning to the same teachers and classes (if you practise online), or the same sequence and poses if you have a self-guided practice, try something new. If you always do online yoga, go to a studio or workshop and get inspired. Once a week, perhaps decide to try a class by a different teacher, or a new style.. or even try a self-guided practice…What have you got to lose?

4. Change when you practise

If you鈥檙e a regular practitioner, you鈥檝e probably got a particular time of day you prefer to get on the mat. If your schedule allows, why not try changing the time of day you practise – morning to evening, vice versa or a quick lunch break class? Stepping on your mat at different times of the day helps you become more aware of what kind of practice best suits you when, and how this can affect your physical and mental wellbeing. 

5. Put on some music

Music can bring a different dimension to your yoga practice. It can act as a calm 鈥榖ackdrop鈥, helping to soothe a chattering mind. On the other hand, you may find that it actually informs your practice and you get so lost in the music that your body, rather than your mind begins to lead the way. (Of course, it does depend on what you choose to listen to – Rage Against the Machine is likely to evoke a different kind of energy than Ludovico Einaudi, for instance!) If you鈥檙e struggling to find suitable soundtracks, try some of our聽music flow聽classes or try Spotify – there are hundreds of yoga playlists to choose from.

6. Adopt a 鈥榖eginner鈥檚 mindset鈥

In the beginner鈥檚 mind there are many possibilities, in the expert鈥檚 there are few.” This quote by Shunryu Suzuki-roshi identifies one of the downsides about becoming 鈥榞ood鈥 at something – once we think we 鈥榢now鈥 something, there鈥檚 a tendency to stop exploring, stop listening,聽stop enquiring鈥

Stay curious, practise something you鈥檙e not ‘good’ at or familiar with,聽or try a different movement practice altogether, like Tai chi, Qi gong or a dance class. What about a聽mixed-movement class, which combines yoga with other movement practices? Not only will this expand your horizons and open you up to potentially new and exciting opportunities but trying something new is聽healthy for our brains too – building connections between neurons and replacing those we’ve lost.

7. Redefine what you think of as 鈥榶oga practice鈥

Acknowledge and be proud of the commitment and dedication it takes to get on your mat but know that a yoga 鈥榩ractice鈥 doesn鈥檛 have to be a ball-busting, 1.5 hour session. A few minutes of mindful movement, quiet meditation or just a moment or two tuning into your breath may serve your body and mind much more than forcing yourself to go through the motions. To paraphrase Julie Martin, the practise really begins when you step off your mat.

8. Read something inspiring

Whenever my practice wanes, I pick up a book. Whether you鈥檙e interested in anatomy, philosophy, history, spirituality, poetry, fiction, there are thousands to choose from. If you need some inspiration,聽our very own teachers have selected a few of their聽favourite yoga books here.

…and if none of this works, take a break! If you鈥檙e dragging yourself to your mat and going through the motions day after day then it’s probably better that you do something else instead. Go for a walk, have a bath, or do some meditation instead. 鈥What鈥檚 for you won鈥檛 go by you鈥 as the old Scottish saying goes, and when your body and heart are ready, they will lead you back to yoga.

Revitalise your yoga practice!

This yoga class with Esther will remind you why you do yoga… to feel better within yourself but also so you can be the best person you can be, for the people around you.

Share article
Kirsty Tomlinson
Kirsty Tomlinson