Avoiding a Yoga Plateau

Avoiding a Yoga Plateau

Yoga is as much about the mind as it is about the body. Hitting a yoga plateau can be physical (i.e. bones and muscles), or it can be mental (lack of inspiration). When hitting a physical plateau, poses that used to come easily are met with resistance and new and challenging poses become trophies which are often not immediately attainable. Mentally, a lack of inspiration may stem from egoism, perfectionism, or performance anxiety. 

Believe it or not, a plateau can actually serve as the perfect opportunity to deepen your practice! Remember, you are not perfect…that’s the bad news. The good news is that you don’t have to be perfect to have a beautiful and effective, long-term yoga practice! Below are 5 ways to bend over your plateau (pun intended). 

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1. Try something different.

My usual go-to practice is a sweaty vinyasa. I like to flow. I find myself becoming agitated when I am holding postures for too long and am not allowing both my mind and my body to move at a fast pace. When I find this happening, I will pop into a studio that is not heated and opt for something either more restorative (Yin, Kundalini, etc) or will focus on alignment (Iyengar) to target deep muscular tissues. By sticking to my “less preferred practices” for a few weeks, I begin to appreciate my go-to-classes with a more energetic approach. This is much like the philosophy of focussing on something through a different lens. 

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2. Book privates.

More often than not, group classes are crowded. If you are looking for intentional pose breakdowns or have specific questions about your practice, consider booking a few private classes. Sometimes getting tailored attention will allow you to get closer to a source of inspiration which could re-light your own fire! 

3. Meditate and investigate Ayurveda.

Asana is the physical practice of yoga and it was originally created to prepare the body for stillness or meditation. By exploring breath or meditation, you can open your mind to learning more about the practice. Ayurveda is a system of life systematically aligned with the sciences of nature and it is often described to be the sister science of asana. Learning more of the science of yoga can improve the depth of postures by not seeing the postures just as shapes and forms, but rather a means to balance the energetic body.

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4. Take a workshop.

I have made it a point to take multiple workshops this year. By doing so, I’ve been able to move further into an aspect of the practice that either inspires or challenges me. There are all types of workshops - if you love arm balancing, take an arm balancing workshop. If you want to learn more about your chakras, take a chakra workshop. If you want to incorporate meditation into your practice and don’t know how…there is likely a workshop for that! Retreats are also an option that can give you a renewed sense of enthusiasm! Try keeping a journal during this time so that you can catalogue your daily experiences because you may make more progress than you think!

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5. Karma Chameleon.

"Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon”…ok, seriously though, karma yoga (the practice of service to others) is very important and the concept often gets lost. Pour yourself into unselfish action by volunteering or research opportunities for paying it forward. Acts of gratitude can change your attitude. 

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Remember, at the end of the day, it is all about grit and perseverance. There may be times that you feel like your daily grown is small, but every little bit adds up. As Dory says, “Just keep swimming”. The work you do on and off of your mat is worthwhile! 

Meghan Ann Martin