11 Ways to Reboot Your Yoga Practice • Yoga Basics
Is your yoga routine in a rut? Does it feel like you are practicing asanas without joy, curiosity, or excitement? Throughout my yoga practice, I’ve learned the importance of dedication and going with the flow, but sometimes the flow can become monotonous, boring and just blah. If your yoga practice needs a jump-start, and purchasing a new mat or new leggings isn’t going to do the trick, check out these 11 tips for restarting your yoga practice.
Tips for restarting a yoga practice
Find one or more items on the below list that spark your interest. It can be daunting to jump back into your practice, so start with a short and achievable goal to help you get back on track. Use a journal or share your journey with a friend to track your progress.
1. Explore stillness
If you’re like me, you enjoy practicing challenging asanas. You go to yoga class to connect to yourself through movement–and through sweat. While asana practices can be a great physical workout, there are so many added benefits (and challenges!) to finding stillness in simple yoga poses.
Hold your poses for just one moment longer to relish in the feeling of wanting to move. Double your breath count in sun salutations. Sit still for a few minutes to focus on pranayama and meditation. Tune in to the times when you feel rushed (i.e. getting to class, fidgeting, Shavasana, leaving class).
Switch things up and add a yin class to your weekly regime to learn about your deep muscles and tissues. Experience the connection that comes from understanding your body’s structure on a deeper level. Or open yourself up to the mental and physical aspects–whether struggle or serenity–that can come from gentle and restorative classes.
2. Explore movement
Perhaps for you, yoga already centers on stillness. If meditation, pranayama, and gentle classes are already on your regular yogic radar, incorporate some new movements by trying a variety of classes. Flow through vinyasa classes; blend breath, movement, and focus in ashtanga; find an energy release in kundalini; get acrobatic with acro yoga; or create your personalized practice with viniyoga. It may feel intimidating, but the key is to remain open. The journey is all about exploration–not perfection.
3. Explore props
Yoga props, such as yoga blocks, straps, bolsters, and blankets, can help you ease back into your regular practice. Props provide stability and support to make restarting yoga accessible, enjoyable, and comfortable. When used correctly, they can help you achieve deeper postures with less strain, greater awareness, and better alignment. Experiment with using one or more props to help you feel more comfortable and safe as you’re rebuilding your practice.
4. Explore pranayama
The breath is the foundation of your yoga practice, and it is the easiest practice to restart. Start with simple techniques, like taking slow deep breaths in Dirga Pranayama or practicing a few minutes of Nadi Sodhana Pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) h, and gradually add more time and techniques as you become more comfortable. The best part of a pranayama practice is that it does not require a strong or flexible body.
5. Explore kindness and compassion
The mental and emotional aspects of yoga can be just as important as the physical practice. As you ease into your practice, remember to be kind to yourself both on and off the yoga mat. If you find yourself struggling to get back into the swing of things, practice self-compassion by recognizing that you may not be able to do certain poses right away. Notice when negative self talk arises and replace it with affirmations or positive emotions.
6. Explore playfulness and joy
Cultivating joy and playfulness can be one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to restart your practice. Focus less on what “should” be done and more on what brings a smile to your face. Take time to explore movements and asanas that feel fun, try new poses and sequences, and enjoy the freedom to experiment on your yoga mat. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself when something doesn’t go as planned.
7. Explore community
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to practice yoga alone. There are ample opportunities to join in with a group of people and explore the practice of yoga together. Look online for local yoga classes, workshops, and retreats in your area. You can also look for virtual classes and connect with local teachers online. Connecting with a yoga community can be a great way to find new inspiration and motivation, and it can also help to keep you accountable to your practice.
8. Explore mudras
A great way to invite intention through movement is with mudras: symbolic hand gestures that guide and redirect your flow of energy. This intentional joining together of fingers is said to have a restorative, healing effect on the body. Plus, mudras can be practiced while sitting, standing, walking, talking–basically any time you can move your fingers.
9. Explore silence
Does your yoga practice generally consist of a rocking playlist? Mine does. While it’s probably best not to ask your yoga instructor to turn off the tunes, experiment with some silence during your home practice.
Dedicate time to silent meditation. Repeat a mantra or words of encouragement as you move through your sequence. Or simply let your breath be your soundtrack.
10. Explore mantras
Before you transition from silence to music, explore other sound options by tossing a mantra into the mix. Mantras are deep sound vibrations created through chanting. Whether or not you delve into the spiritual aspects of yoga, chanting focuses the mind on a sound to bring stillness to thoughts and calmness to the breath. Try some mantra meditations to get started.
11. Explore non-yoga
I’m not telling you to stop practicing forever. Take a week off. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try zumba or pilates or kickboxing but fell in love with yoga and haven’t looked back. I’ve felt the same throughout my practice (and especially after my intensive yoga teacher training). However, I’ve also felt countless benefits from stepping back and exploring other areas of interest.
While climbing an indoor rock wall, for example, I built strength and endurance by focusing on deep yogic breath. I gained a deeper understanding about the benefits of flexibility, body awareness, and proper alignment. And I definitely appreciated the restorative stretches of yin yoga afterwards!
I’m not telling you to quit yoga. But, for me, taking a week off helped me discover the benefits of my practice in a whole new context!
Rebooting your practice is all about exploring the new. Get out of your comfort zone and revisit a beginner’s perspective. Check out that new studio, recreation center, or workshop. Go to that other teacher’s class. If you practice at home, check out community options. Bring a friend or go alone.
Do these suggestions make you feel uncomfortable? Good! All the more reason to try.