Whether you are new to yoga or have years of experience under your belt, there is always room for growth. Watching your flexibility and strength increase is an amazing benefit of yoga that can keep you coming back for more, and these yoga modifications will help you make the transition that much easier.
If you are looking to develop an advanced asana practice (physical practice), the best place to start is with the basics. Increasing your yoga practice from assisted poses to advanced poses can be really exciting, but before attempting any advanced poses, here are three main points to hit:
Before practicing any advanced yoga poses, it is important to be warm! Making sure the proper muscles for each pose are warmed up helps prevent injuries. Each pose has specific muscle groups that need to be lengthened (stretched) and specific muscle groups that need to be strengthened before attempting the pose.
Developing proper breath awareness is key before attempting any advanced yoga poses. Learning to use your breath properly allows you to go deeper into a pose and keep your core engaged (which will protect your spine from injury).Begin practicing your Ujjayi (“victorious”) breath throughout your yoga practice. This breath sounds like an ocean wave and helps to warm your body from the inside out. This pranayama (breathing) technique increases concentration and helps to release tension in tight areas of the body.
To practice this Ujjayi breath: Seal your lips closed and place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. When you do this, you should feel a slight constriction in the back of your throat. Begin to breathe slowly in and out of the nose. Your breathing should feel textured and your exhales should be audible.An important thing to remember is that you should always be able to keep your breath. If you lose your breath or start to strain, it is a sign to back out of the pose until you can find that balance between effort and ease!
Making sure that you develop body awareness before practicing advanced poses is important. Knowing the difference between stretching and straining can be a fine line, and being aware of your body’s limits is crucial. Starting with a basic physical yoga modifications and practicing assisted poses is a great way to get in tune with your body.Two of the most important things to remember when trying to get into more advanced poses is to practice patience and kindness towards yourself. Achieving advanced poses can take time, sometimes a lot more time than we would like. Some days we feel super flexible and strong and some days we don’t. Remembering that each day is different and loving our bodies regardless is one of the most important lessons of our yoga practice.