1. Deepen your focus:
The saying goes a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. In my opinion the same goes with yoga. You must me present during the storm to test and grow your strength. It is “easy” to practice in a studio when the conditions are perfect – quiet, dimmed lights, no obvious distractions – but can you focus and quiet your mind when tourists are walking by, kids and dogs are running around, and surfers are off in the distance. Practicing on the beach builds a new element of focus, and reminds you to keep going despite all the noise around you.
2. Do what serves you; give up what doesn’t:
For the past year and a half I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury. In classes I would awkwardly modify poses that didn’t feel good or reluctantly take child’s pose if the pain was too much. Building a solo practice has made me more aware of my body’s own needs. I no longer feel obligated to practice poses that don’t serve me. I’ve removed chaturanga and other shoulder intense poses, which frees up my time to focus on other areas. Now I invite in more of what serves me. If my hips are tight, I can focus on that and don’t have to worry about whether a teacher will build-in the poses that I need. If a pose feels good, I can linger there longer without being directed by the teacher’s pace.
3. Learn how you show up:
One of my favorite yoga teachers would always say how you show up on your mat is how you show up in life. I love this. When things get tough, will you throw in the towel? Without a teacher guiding your practice and telling you to hold a pose for a few more breaths, or to ignore the sweat dripping down your face or the burn in your quads, it can be tempting to exit poses before things get hard. Practicing on my own I’ve learned to embrace these challenges and stick things out to experience greater benefits. I love finding my new edge or limit each time I practice, and I often notice that when I just breathe through the difficulties I’m able to go to a place in my practice greater than I thought was possible.
4. Set your intention:
A yogi tradition that I’ve come to love is the idea of setting an intention for your practice. This is something I try to do off the mat as well – it is so important to me that actions are inline with intention (it’s like a simple math equation). An intention can be a goal, or an obstacle you need to overcome, or a quality you want to build more of (i.e. letting go of judgment, inviting in love, build clarity). When you practice on your own you can not only set an intention but you can start to build a flow/sequence that helps cultivate this intention in your life. Recently I’ve been setting an intention of becoming more grounded, finding balance, and building focus. In my physical yoga practice I’ve been spending more time on eagle, half moon, and warrior III, which are intense poses that requires you to get grounded, find balance and focus.
5. Share your passion:
If you love it, share it. Why do we keep yoga locked up in studios? Practicing outdoors will inspire and motivate others to try yoga.
Written by: Kale Yogi