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Natural Awakenings Austin

Get Out of that Yoga Rut

by Sheila Johnson

According to statistics compiled by, 36 million people in America practice yoga, but doing something and loving it aren’t necessarily the same. If you practice yoga, but don’t feel like you are getting enough out of it, it’s time to kick things up a notch. Different habits, equipment and technology can help you get out of a rut and achieve a more fulfilling regimen.

Breathe mindfully

The importance of breathing cannot be overstated. If you inhale and exhale mindfully and with rhythm, you’ll get more out of whatever you are doing, whether that’s yoga or something else in your life. Breathing full and deep makes you feel grounded, safe and relaxed. It allows you to enjoy the moment to its fullest and keeps you balanced. Talk to your instructor or use apps if you are interested in learning new breathing exercises.

Incorporate props into your practice

No, yoga props are not just for beginners. Straps, blocks, bolsters, and other props can help enhance and improve your yoga practice. They can allow you to deepen a pose or have better alignment. If you aren't sure what exactly to do with particular props, stay after class and ask your teacher for assistance.

Try something new

If you always sneak into the back row of class, do something totally radical—get there early and get dibs on a front-row spot. By leaving your comfort zone and pulling your mat up front, you’ll find it easier to focus on the teacher and on your own body. Without anyone in front of you, you’ll be free of distractions and be able to practice like you are the only student there.

Sometimes it helps to take your practice elsewhere as well. With nobody else around, like at home, in your backyard, or when you travel, it’s just you and your yoga. Many people find it helpful to use a streaming device so their yoga practice has a portable option. You can stream sessions to your heart’s content and focus you yourself and your poses.

Don't compare yourself to others

You shouldn’t judge anyone else in your class, and you shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone either. As Psychology Today explains, comparing quickly becomes a slippery slope, leading to negative feelings and resentment. Remember that your yoga practice is just that—yours. It’s not about what anyone else is doing, or if you can’t hold a pose or aren’t as flexible as someone else in the class. Stay focused on yourself, your abilities, and your personal plan.

Be on time

If you are always rushing in right as (or after) your class starts, you aren’t doing yourself or anyone else in the class any favors. Latecomers are disruptive. Also, racing into class means your thoughts are racing, too. If you arrive at the last minute, it will take you a while to get grounded and balanced. By that time, class could be halfway over. If you are late regularly, consider changing to a different yoga class that better suits your schedule.

Set goals and intentions

If you have a physical goal you want to accomplish during yoga (for example, adding a number of seconds to your meditation or lengthening a pose each week), apps can be extremely helpful. Try an app such as which, in addition to all the classes offered, provides optional scheduled plans to help you achieve your goals.

Apps can also assist with intentions. When you set an intention in your yoga practice, it can be a number of things—an intention of gratitude, kindness, mindfulness, and so on. To carry your intention beyond yoga, you could use apps such as or to keep you on track.

Yoga can be so beneficial to your emotional, mental, and physical health. However, if you feel like you aren’t reaping the benefits of practicing, you may need to make some changes. By altering your routine or using new tools, you can make your yoga experience better than it’s ever been.

Sheila Johnson is a certified life coach and wellness blogger based in Austin. For more information, visit

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