2 Ways to Get Past the Dreaded Yoga Plateau
Hey Yogis! Have you ever found yourself in the place I am now…a plateau in your yoga practice?
It feels like ages since I’ve been dutifully trudging through my asana practice with little sign of improvement—and there’s still a lot of room for it! What makes it worse is that I am keenly aware of the areas that are lacking, and even though I do my best to address them, nothing much has changed. Though yoga isn’t supposed to be about achievement (nor solely about the physical), part of me misses the validation of the work I’m putting in creating results in my body.
While a plateau can be frustrating, I’ve come to believe it is more of a temporary mind state caused by attachment to particular outcomes. The way I see it, there are only two ways out of that feeling of stagnation--both of which involve learning to “let go.”
1) Broaden Your Perspective and Test Your Assumption. Sometimes we are so concentrated on particular aspects of our practice that we fail to see what has changed in other areas. In my case, I have been hyper-focused on the tightness/lack of mobility in my lower back and glutes, as well as the weakness in my right hip flexors. Because I am not seeing progress in these particular areas, I assume my ENTIRE practice is stagnant. But if I loosen my attachments and broaden my outlook, I can see this isn’t actually the case. During this supposed “plateau,” I’ve learned to breathe more deeply in Marichyasana D. I’ve made some progress with the two second series postures I was recently given. My ability to meter my effort based on my body’s needs has improved, and my ability to take the lessons of yoga off the mat grows daily. When I take a wider view, this doesn’t seem like a plateau at all.
2) Redirect your focus. When you step onto your mat, there are an infinite number of ways you can channel your attention. If you’ve been emphasizing particular areas of your practice for a while without seeing progress, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere. In my example above, I could let go of trying SO HARD to open my lower back and strengthen my hips; perhaps there are other areas of the body that need attention first.
One of the best places to redirect focus is away from asana and into the other two elements of the Tristana method--breath and dristi, because it’s easy to neglect these in favor of the physical forms. Or what about refining the use of your bandhas? Improving your foundation in each pose? Perhaps a rededication to your meditation practice, or studying and applying the lessons in yoga philosophy? YOGA is so broad that there’s no reason to attach ourselves to particular aspects of it if nothing fruitful is coming of it.
No matter how you address the plateau, one thing I know for certain is that it won’t last forever. Have faith that your effort will yield results in time, and stay strong! In the meantime, we can appreciate the plateaus as an opportunity to learn about non-attachment :)
Love and Namaste,