Why You Should Break all the Rules of Yoga in order to Elevate your Practice

In order to elevate our practice, we don’t always need to push harder. Sometimes, it’s better to take a different route, to step off the mat and take a break from our regular practice. There are many rules we follow in yoga, whether conscious or unconscious, but now and then, it’s nice to let loose and to get a fresh reminder of what we love about yoga and what inspires us.

You Forgot Your Mat

One of my favorite things to do when I taught yoga in the Philippines was to introduce a flowing sequence on the shore at sunset. The students’ transformations to become comfortable with the new routine were even more beautiful than any scenery. The class was very different from regular yoga! Classes always began with confusion and hesitation because there were no rules that everyone was familiar with.

We have become so used to practicing yoga inside, on a small mat, and in a specific order. You know the poses you can expect as a yogi. The poses may be in a different order depending on your teacher, but they are all familiar.

The movements during the beach flow were unfamiliar. We would stand on the warm sand, or sometimes grass near a waterfall, and slowly and deliberately move. We would be distracted by the cuteness of village children. We would pause when a water buffalo passed.

We were never isolated from the outside world, even if we practiced outdoors in our small studio. The world was never shut out, even if we practiced in our little outdoor studio. It’s just a fact of life that there will never be ideal conditions to achieve peace. And that’s also not the point. In spite of the frustrations and noise, we need to find inner peace and balance.

Let Nature Teach You

You will be pushed out of your yoga comfort zone by breaking the rules and doing things differently. Who says that yoga is only done on a mat indoors? Yoga is everywhere. It’s a connection with yourself, nature and a mindset that we cultivate when we focus on the moment.

In the middle of a beach flow, there is usually a turn. The first moves were performed with serious faces. However, the middle movement was quite difficult. It required complete coordination between the mind and arms and was difficult to master on the first attempt.

The¬†Egos¬†would be shattered. We would laugh and then concentrate more. I told the students it didn’t really matter how they did it as long as they tried. What else matters as long we are moving and enjoying ourselves? “This is also yoga,” I reminded them.

Let yourself be lighter

It was always lighter at the end of class. The students were no longer trying to do it correctly but instead were free to enjoy themselves. The sun was setting, and beautiful natural elements surrounded us.

After the class, students often come up to me and tell me how much fun they had. Usually, the outdoor activities reminded students of what they love about yoga or why they began practicing. We don’t practice yoga because of Lululemon or even the right movements. We want to connect with something, dig deeper, feel love, and be whole on a new level.

Elevate your practice. Practice differently. Move differently. Shake it all up. Challenge your yoga. You may land in a place of laughter and lightness that feels like yoga.

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