Yoga is a form of physical and mental exercise that is meant to improve the body and mind. It is based on the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, which are some of the world’s oldest religions.
When we talk about Yoga asana, most of us think about the standard forward bend and upward dog positions. While these are important, there are other poses that are equally important to the practice of Yoga. These poses give us the opportunity to hold our body in uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time while we practice improving our flexibility and strength.
At some point, every yogi struggles to master a challenging yoga pose. These moments can be very stressful for the body and mind combined. Suddenly, you find yourself at a point where the gap between your capabilities and your goals seems quite large.
The good news is that all the answers you seek, the simple solution to your problems, can only be found within yourself!
First of all, let me say that we have all experienced that! Reaching this stage simply means that as a yoga practitioner, you go from an intermediate to an advanced level. And it is not by chance that one loses faith and becomes disappointed.
The essence of yoga is not only to advance physically, but also to develop mentally and emotionally. Being an advanced yogi means that you have mastered the art of releasing negative emotions and have learned to be humble and happy in any situation.
So stop forcing things and be happy where you are. Your body and mind will develop at their own pace.
The second thing you need to do is strengthen your body. These advanced yoga asanas are the combination of a calm mind and a strong, healthy body. Once you’ve freed yourself from all the negative thoughts, start strength training.
This can limit your flexibility, BUT, if you end each workout with a yoga practice, I assure you that you will become just as flexible, but twice as strong!
If you practice yoga at an intermediate or advanced level, your body is already strong and used to isometric loading (like holding a plank), so you need a more dynamic workout.
Good dynamic workouts are HIIT (high intensity interval training) or TRX workouts (where you use your own body weight). This will help you feel more stable in difficult poses and eventually master them.
Begin to notice your own breathing as you enter the asana. A scientific study has shown that when times are tough, we hold our breath. I know you think you’re breathing, but if you really start paying attention, you’ll see that you’re not!
I’ve been doing yoga myself for 13 years and I still catch myself inhaling, keeping a shaky balance on my hands, thinking about everything but the breath, and exhaling as soon as I leave the pose.
When you start forcing yourself to take long, deep breaths in and out during your asana exercises, you will see the difference! Your mind and muscles unwind when you do this, and you feel like you were born into this position.
Did you know that athletes should present themselves as winners and achievers before a competition? It’s called autogenetic training. You visualize your goal, you imagine yourself doing it, you feel yourself doing it, and then you just do it!
They say that if you see yourself succeeding at something, there is a 50% chance that you will achieve your goals. So before you do an advanced asana, imagine yourself in it, contract your muscles and imagine how everything goes: how you breathe, how you feel.
You will be amazed at the impact of this true auto suggestion on your reality!
Each asana can be approached differently. Watch all the videos you can find, read all the explanations from the different instructors, and don’t stop until you find the approach that is easiest for you.
For example, if you try to do the scissor pose, you may spend months trying to do the side raven pose, as your favorite instructor recommends, and end up getting frustrated. On the other hand, the movement of the twisted slot posture can give you the results you want.
Even if you like an instructor, you shouldn’t lock yourself in and rule out other options. Different people have different perspectives and approaches to the goal, and you are one of them. So it is only through thorough research and practice that you will find your way.
You fool yourself into assuming the pose, and then when you learn to hold it, you can approach it differently.
This is the key to everything in life! Practice every day and you will only get better. Always be positive and open-minded and you will be rewarded for your patience!
You’ve reached a difficult point in your practice. With the right approach, you will be very satisfied. You will do things you never thought you could do. All the power is within you, you just need to find it and release it. And never forget: why are you doing this?