Strap yourselves in for a trip back in time, to when I first began a journey on improving a yoga pose. Five years ago in teacher training I discovered the correct alignment for butterfly. I’d been doing it, but with my knees up around my ears. I subdued my ego and sat on a bolster and two blankets to get my knees at the same height as my hip crease. I’d sit either in butterfly or cross legged for 5 minutes at the end of every class I taught.
Gradually over the years I lowered the height of my pelvis. Until I was just sitting with my tailbone on a blanket. Then it happened. This week, FIVE YEARS LATER, I was able to get into butterfly pose with no props.
My self critical eye still sees room for improvement on my left leg. But I am celebrating BIGTIME this journey! So, in this post I want to share with you few tips to help you work on improving a yoga pose that you’re struggling with.
5 tips for improving a yoga pose
Yoga challenges can be great for creating consistency in a home yoga practice. There are tons of yoga challenges online but chances are they don’t cater to your needs. My suggestion is to create your own. So these five tips should help you discover how to put together YOUR yoga challenge so you can get on the journey to improving a yoga pose.
Figure out your pose
Most of us want to get better at the poses we suck at. Honestly my list of poses I want to improve is long. But, I’d advise choosing just 1 or 2 poses to focus on at a time. Think about the pose for you that doesn’t look or feel like it’s “right”. Or perhaps it’s a pose that doesn’t feel strong? Perhaps, it’s a pose doesn’t feel stable? That makes for a great pose for your yoga challenge. Let me know in the comments what your pose is and I’ll try and schedule a video about how to help.
Establish a baseline
This journey to improving a yoga pose is going to be a long one. And, like any journey you need to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Be honest, where are you starting from? How does it look? Or feel? Notice everything about the pose you are trying to improve. Where you connect to the floor and then think about how you’ll notice differences. What muscles feel tight, and unwilling? For me I know that butterfly was all about my tight hips and inner thighs. Baseline for me was no part of my thighs touched the floor and I was wearing my knees as earrings.
Take before photos/video
One of the biggest regrets I have is not taking more photo’s or video years ago when I got serious about my yoga practice. Now, I find myself longing for those early records of my baseline. Not only because I would have a good record of my improvement, but that my story could inspire others. Lesson learned. TAKE PHOTOS. Yeah yeah, you hate photos of yourself… your cellphone selfies might disagree! What we hate is taking photo’s of ourselves when we’re vulnerable. Or, not good at something. Trust me you’ll thank me in a few weeks/months/years. Document it!
How will you define progress?
Improving a yoga pose means defining what progress will look like. Is it connection to the floor? In the case of butterfly the end result is my outer leg connecting to the floor. But there were progress markers along the way. Each lowering of the pelvis meant there was an improvement. For a balance pose, it could be increasing the duration standing in the pose. Those small markers are milestones. Celebrate them!
Time: expectation vs reality
Typical online yoga challenges are done for 30 days. I suggest making this challenge something you don’t restrict to a time period. Think marathon, not a sprint. You probably won’t see or feel a difference in 7 days. Heck you probably won’t see a difference in 7 weeks. It’s called a yoga PRACTICE for a reason. In my example, it took 5 years!
Also remember to do the work! Don’t expect to hop into a pose daily and expecting improvement is unrealistic. Remember to take the time to warm up, and release tight muscles. This will probably mean working on variations and modifications. Athletes get better because they practice EVERY DAY. Even on the recovery days they are foam rolling, getting massages, infra-red therapy etc. There are other ways of working towards your pose than just being IN your pose! Sometimes you gotta get outside the box.
Improving a yoga pose involves you putting the work in everyday. If you’re consistent, long term, things will happen. Success never happens overnight. It takes hard work, dedication and consistency.
- What yoga pose are you trying to improve?
- Are you putting the work in to make it better?
- Do you do before/after photos?