Believe it or not, I'd say that I've been a yoga beginner for nearly a decade. That's because I've only ever practiced periodically — maybe once a week for a month or two before rolling up my mat and letting it collect dust in the corner for a few more months.
Now, I consider myself in my longest, most consistent stretch as a yogi. Since the spring, I've been practicing at least three times a week. Although I'm only ever on my mat for about 30 minutes at a time max, I can already see so much progress in my poses and feel less stiffness in my joints.
To keep myself on track to graduate from my beginner status and continue my regular practice, I've given myself four achievable goals to work toward over the summer.
Stay For the Entire Savasana
One of my horrible workout habits is not cooling down. Truth be told, I've gotten a lot better about not running off after the last rep in strength classes, but, lately, I've been getting lazy with it when it comes to yoga.
Even though I look forward to the glorious release of Savasana, sometimes my racing thoughts take over. I try to get ahead of the day by closing out of my yoga app early and getting some errands done. But, I know I'd have a much smoother, less stressful start to my morning if I stayed on my mat through Savasana.
Attempt New and Difficult Poses
I dream of mastering Crow Pose. I've always envied anyone who was able to balance on their arms. But envying and simply dreaming isn't getting me any closer to performing Crow Pose. I've notoriously given up and gone into Child's Pose the very second my instructor even announced the pose because I was afraid of failure — and falling on my face.
The other day, though, thanks to my instructor's words of wisdom, I pushed away the fear and attempted to get into the pose. I fell over a lot and my arms were shaking, but I kept going. After trying and trying and trying again, I managed to balance on my arms for a second or two. It felt amazing! I know that if I keep practicing, I'll work up to holding Crow Pose for even longer.
Concentrate on My Breath
When I'm working through a fast-paced flow, I hold my breath without even noticing it.
But it's the continuous breath work in yoga — the combo of deep inhales and exhales — that helps calm me down in moments of tension. In an effort to be more thoughtful in my practice and really reap those relaxing benefits, I'd like to start connecting my breaths with my movement.
Make It to 60 Minutes on My Mat
I start to let my mind wander after about 25 minutes on my mat. Instead of working through my pent-up energy during a flow, I begin making laundry lists of things I need to do in my head — then, I count down the minutes until I can roll up my mat. Because of that, the last quarter of my practice feels like a wash.
Dedicating an hour to meditative running is no problem for me whatsoever — and I hope to build that same relationship with yoga. I know my anxiety levels, my pose technique, and the health of my joints will be better for it.