6 ways to improve your yoga technique right now

20 April 2017 by
First published: 21 March 2016

Yoga has been around for thousands of years – over 5,000 in fact – and through the ages it has stuck as a popular practice thanks to its amazing health benefits.

It can help people with high blood pressure, lower back pain and depression, though it is not just our physical wellbeing that can benefit from yoga, but our emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing too.

It’s initially important to learn and practice yoga with a trained teacher, as they will ensure you are not over-stretching or potentially injuring yourself while you learn the different techniques and poses.

We have teamed up with Leah Bracknell, who’s been a qualified teacher for over 10 years to share 6 ways to improve your yoga technique right now…

Don’t be your own worst enemy

We can all be our own worst enemy in general life and this can extend to yoga. Leah tells us the main thing that holds people back from progressing in yoga is ourselves.

She explains Patanjali (one of the great ancient yoga sages), wrote that there are nine obstacles to yoga: self-doubt, lack of mental effort, sickness, inattention, laziness /fatigue, overindulgence, lack of moderation, ego and fear.

If you’re struggling with something, whether that’s in yoga or general life, it can probably be traced back to one of these nine obstacles.

There is no such thing as being ‘good at yoga.’

Pictures of slim, bendy people looking fabulous when doing a headstand is something no a lot of people can identify with. But Leah explains that yoga is all about the journey and what you learn along the way. If you are benefiting from the practice, then you are good at yoga.

Find the right type of yoga for you

Think about what you want to get from your yoga class, there are many different styles of yoga, Hatha, Iyengar and Asanga to name just a few. Leah advises ringing up the teacher of the class you are interested in and ask them to explain what they teach and let them know about any injuries or health conditions you may have. Most teachers will be happy to advise you and will let you know if the class is not suitable for you.

Ensure you are getting the full benefit

To make sure you are getting the most of from your yoga class, Leah says to go with an open heart and mind, be accepting of yourself, listen to yourself and don’t ever use the words use the words ‘ought’ or ‘should’. Take your yoga practice ‘off the mat’ and weave it into the fabric of your daily life. You can practice mindfulness anywhere, for example when you are doing the washing up, it can change a chore into a calm and rewarding meditative experience.

Don’t worry about flexibility

Yoga is not about being able to bend yourself into impossible shapes, or trying to copy a pose from Instagram. Thankfully Leah says flexibility and strength will come through steady, responsible practice. Listening to and honouring your body’s needs and challenging yourself, or accepting your limits when appropriate. Improvements in posture and strength can be made through gentle practice over a period of a few months. We’ll take the slow and steady approach then.

Don’t let yourself get bored

Leah has some questions to ask yourself if you are getting bored of your yoga routine: Why are you bored? Is it the class? Is it the teacher? If so, they can be easily remedied by trying a new class with a different teacher. Or on some level are you creating the block yourself? What postures are your favourites? Do you like them because they are easy for you? Perhaps you need to challenge yourself with postures that bring some resistance. Which postures do you find challenging? Is it because they are physically hard? Can you find a different way to engage them? Or do they bring up an emotional resistance? If so, Leah explains this could be the body’s way of telling you there is something in your life that needs looking at.