I recently had the opportunity to try out a handful of different yoga studios all over my yoga-saturated city.
Unsurprisingly, taking classes with unfamiliar teachers in foreign spaces provided yoga experiences I was wildly unfamiliar with.
This change rattled my ego; I felt lost and far from my home-sweet-yoga studio.
My rational self was adamant about letting fear of the unknown taint my practice. After much trial and a lot of error, I devised a list of three, nearly foolproof, ways to feel more at ‘om’, however new and challenging the yoga class may be.
1. Consider it a challenge.
In my experimental yoga travels, the instructor of a particularly challenging Vinyasa Flow class began guiding us into Eka Pada Koundinyasana II.
Instead of taking a child’s pose like I normally would I decided to challenge myself.
Did I succeed in balancing my thigh on my upper arm perfectly? Hell no! I actually fell flat on my face!
However, in addition to the questionable looking bruise I earned, I also gained a new perspective on the pose and an interest in trying again.
2. Choose a drishti.
Drishti is a sanskrit word describing a focal point for the gaze to fall. For example, the tip of the nose or between the eyes, assisting one to achieve a meditative state during practice.
Drishtis can help us balance, allow us to come back to our breath, and keep our minds calm during challenging (or not so challenging) poses.
Drishtis can be used to focus our minds off the mat as well.
Whether trying to stay balanced and strong in tree pose, or finding that the grocery list is infiltrating our minds during practice, a drishti might be the tool we need.
3. Tune out your surroundings.
Sally Yogini next to us has her foot touching her head, and Joe Schmoe’s ujjayi breath is so loud he could cause tectonic plates to shift.
Practicing in community can no doubt bring upon these distractions and awaken the ego, but knowing we have the power to go inward during practice can help get us through.
If the lights are too bright, I close my eyes. If the pose is too challenging, I take a modification or child’s pose. If my ego is screaming doubts and distractions, I focus on my body filling with breath.
I do whatever feels right to come back into my body, and I find myself more at home in my yoga practice.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Brenna Fischer / Editor: Catherine Monkman