With spring now officially here, it’s time we talk about our yoga practice and how to spice it up a little bit. No, I’m not saying yoga is boring but I am saying that like any workout it’s easy to fall into the same routines, the same habits.
Whether we practice at a studio or at home (or both), we tend to fall into a comfortable routine. Same time of day, same smells, same poses, same place.
And this isn’t all bad. I like having a dedicated time to do yoga just like I have a dedicated time to run or lift weights. Every so often, I’ll change up my schedule but by and large I keep the time I practice the same. This is mainly because of things in my schedule that cannot be moved around like work or just things I like doing at certain times.
Sticking to the same time of day or same days of the week is also good, especially in the beginning, because it helps you learn a new habit. It helps you stay committed. It helps you focus on your goals. If you have a scheduled time of day and week, you’re more likely to do it than if you approach it willy nilly.
But the rest? That should change.
We’ll start with something bite-sized and manageable. Mat sprays, essential oils, incense and candles.
If we have an at-home practice, there’s probably one thing we aren’t taking advantage of and it’s our freedom to be creative. We don’t have to worry about other people, their allergies, their preferences, etc. We get to cater just to ourselves. And we should really take advantage of that.
The easiest way to do this is to incorporate smells into your practice.
And keep mixing it up.
For me, this means having a candle I love (soy candles best and safest) that calms me down and is not overwhelming. I shouldn’t have a migraine by the end of my practice. This also means having things to mix it up with. I have a mat spray linked here that I love. Spray it on before your practice and every chaturanga will make you happier!
But that’s not all. You can also use essential oils on your mat or wrists to encourage a new experience. Now, essential oils don’t heal or cure anything at all. No science to back that. But! They can promote various side effects like relaxation, a real benefit during our yoga practice.
You can also try incense which has a special place in my heart after years of training martial arts. It’s nostalgic and really dials my focus in. Just make sure the smoke isn’t going straight into your lungs or eyes.
How do you mix this up?
Try new candles! There are plenty of sustainable, eco-friendly soy candles out there. Try something locally made maybe. You can also try all sorts of different blends of oils and scents of incense. The options are next to endless!
But smell isn’t the only way you can enhance your practice. You can also turn to your ears.
Turn on some soft music, or maybe rock, or metal. Try something new as you explore your practice. You can also use a singing bowl and mess around with that and what you can do. What sounds inspire you? What sounds calm you down?
Now for the real fun part, the reason why I wanted to write this blog post in the first place. Practice outside.
You can do this in the winter, but it’s not as enjoyable that’s for sure especially with all the layers restricting movement. So now that it’s spring, I figure I would tell you about one of my favorite things to do to mix up my practice: practicing outside.
Why is this sort of practice so special?
To begin with, no two days are alike. No two moments are like when you’re outside. I can start my practice in the dark, or at dawn, and by the end of my practice I can be doing vinyasa’s under the heat of the sun. It can go from quiet to windy with birds chirping and rustling grass. It can go from smelling like dirt to smelling like someone’s cooking.
There are so many different factors. The breeze alone is inspiration enough to get outside and practice. If we’re looking to mix up our practice, there’s no better way to this than to get outside and roll out our yoga mat. No two moments will be alike. Every breath will be unique and invigorating in its own way. Besides, have you ever done savasana in the sun?
There are a few ways we can practice yoga outside and there are a few interesting suggestions I have for mixing up your outdoor practice even more.
First, you don’t even need a mat if you don’t want. It’s actually really, really fun to practice handstands and forearms stands in the grass. You can feel what’s going on and use the ground to stabilize you. Your grip is going to be easier too because the ground does give unlike wood floors or even carpet.
You can also throw a towel over the grass. Or you can you use one or two yoga mats on a patio/deck. Be sure that your hands and knees are adequately padded because concrete forgives no one.
Now, what are the fun suggestion?
Practice yoga at night by a fire. This was a suggestion from my husband and it was one of the best experiences. Draw your attention to the noise, the smell, and the sight of both the fire and the stars above you.
The other suggestion is to practice using props, but in nature. Trees, rocks, whatever is around you. Try practicing with nature! Your hands might get a little dirty but it’s so worth it. We need to dig our hands into nature more than we do.
Most important thing here is that we learn to mix up our lives. We’re used to habits. Habits are good and they have their place, like I mentioned earlier. But where they don’t belong is in places we need to explore. We need to explore ourselves, our minds, our worlds. We need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and try new experiences.
It’s important to recognize that we might not enjoy every single one but that we need to continue trying new things. Happiness is important. We won’t find it doing the same things over and over again. So try something new! Test out the water. Go outside. Have fun!