Disclaimer: Yes. I have posted pictures of me in a handstand on instagram and am in no way bashing others to post these kind of pictures. This is purely the more “creative” side to embody being powerful in your yoga practice.
First let’s define what I mean by powerful. The handy world of google search tells us:
“having great power or strength.”
Well yeah…ok so let’s look at the definition of “power”:
(noun) “the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.”
(Verb) “move or travel with great speed or force.”
So being powerful in yoga might mean…”moving with great speed or force in a particular way or quality” (energizer bunny anyone?!) For the sake of convenience and trying to forget that bunny imagery, we’re going to refer to “being powerful in yoga” as: “being strong in your physical and mental practice while being deliberate in your execution of the poses.”
Being Powerful in Yoga: “Being strong in your physical and mental practice while being deliberate in your execution of the poses.”
I think that about sums it up. Something we may all be looking for (whether it’s in yoga or other areas of our life) when we work towards achieving goals. Like many other yoga practitioners on the instagram platform, I love showcasing when I finally achieve a posture I’ve been working on. Maybe it’s a wish to share my joy with the world, through a picture and some short catchy text, or I simply want something aesthetic in my instagram feed, and better yet, I just like to see what I look like doing yoga (You’re so vain, I bet you think this post is about you). That being said, feeling powerful in your yoga practice starts from something we can’t always photograph, the abstract, from a sense of being within.
How could you take a picture of what you’re “feeling” during your yoga practice? You can’t literally take a picture but we are able to communicate (some better than others) how we feel. Through imagery, we show our creations to the world…or to those caring to follow us (@jenallenyoga #selfpromo #notsorry). So basically, what I’m offering are non visual ways to practice being powerful in your yoga. Here are a few examples (see evidence A-C) I have felt my power in my practice. If you wish to share any of your own, please comment below.
This is purely an opinion/experience written piece from a yoga practitioner (also teacher/therapist, but always a practitioner first!).
1. SILENCE IS GOLDEN
When I first started practicing yoga at home, in 2009, I would pump the music, get really excited about my upcoming practice, and promptly fall out of interest as soon as a song I didn’t “vibe” with came through my player. I found myself fumbling to change the song and then trapped in the forever space case, looking at my phone doing odd tasks I meant to do throughout the day. This not only short changed my practice, but also didn’t help with my focus or concentration. Once enrolled in my first yoga teacher training (YTT) in 2012, I found the off peace of practicing in silence, save for the sound of my breathing and ambient noises within the home. As a traditional Ashtanga practitioner, I would practice in the early morning before anything was turned on and absolutely loved it.
Fast forward to last week, I was practicing yoga at home and turned the music on again. It took only 12.4 seconds to realize this was not how I wanted to practice and promptly turned it off. Having silence is a great way to give our minds a break and to focus on being in the moment. Sometimes songs can bring us into a different moment in time, maybe a memory, or a thought regarding the future. In the silence we also grow our practice, becoming stronger in our quest of focus and yoga practice.
2. AGAIN. AGAIN. AGAIN.
When we complete a task or motion repeatedly, our bodies and mind learn more about efficiency in completing that task. Many times we first try a posture, it is confusing to us. Without previous experience, the posture can be uncomfortable, make our bodies shake, and possibly have an emotional response we were not prepared to have! Here’s a BIG secret: It’s okay to feel weak.
Yeah. It’s okay to feel weak, vulnerable, and frustrated when you’re trying to do complex movements set to a rhythm (that may or may not be dictated by you!) The joy in knowing it’s okay can remind us to practice again and again. Over time, the poses will become easier. Your body will remember how tough it was to hold that warrior 1 for 30 seconds. It will grow stronger and next time you practice you may hold the post for 35 seconds (before straightening out that leg and making it look like you meant to do that but really your thighs are on fire and you’re cursing the burning sensation).
3. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
I feel like this is a given but sometimes we miss out on this and plateau in our yogic journey. After we reach a stage of accomplishment (yes I lasted the whole duration in crow/crane pose!) we sometimes stay in our comfort zone. This doesn’t always relate to doing some acrobatic arm balance, through acroyoga is a great challenge in its own. What I mean more is how we can find power in the stillness of our poses. Maybe try a yin yoga class to challenge the fast pace life we are sometimes faced with, by staying in postures for longer periods of time. Most poses in a yin yoga class are held from 3-7 minutes. It becomes more of a mental challenge at that point. Seeing how your body and mind respond to staying in a low lunge for an extended period of time.
Going the opposite direction, you could also take a heated power yoga class. This may be a given considering it has the word “power” in the name. The power yoga sequence involves a lot of vinyasa sequences, meaning you’ll be going from upward facing dog, to downward facing, planks or chaturangas, and sun salutations a lot throughout the class. Sometimes I refer to the power class as “burpee training”. For those that have done both power yoga and burpees, you know what I mean!
So there you have it. Three ways you could practice being power in yoga without a handstand to show instagram. If you try any of these ideas, comment back or message me and let me know how it turned out!
Until we meet on the mat, NAMASTE.