There were many lessons I learnt from the teacher training course that brought my yoga practice, in particular my asana practice, to the next level. There are too many list but I would say these are my top 5:
1) The Significance of Warming Up
I would say this is my ultimate and top tip. I used to always go straight into poses and be very discouraged when I was unable to do them even though I have tried the poses many times before. However once I learnt that I should warm up/ strengthen/loosen up the relevant muscles for a particular pose, I was able to do poses that I was never able to do before or at the very least I was getting closer to doing that. Doing a proper warmup before poses that I have yet to perfect not only enhanced my asana practice but it also boosted my morale.
2) It’s Not All About Flexibility
I think there is a common misconception that yoga is all about flexibility. I learnt that this is not true. Strength actually plays as an important role in yoga. Having strong muscles are not only required so you can get into some asanas but they are also required so you can maintain the pose. For example, Chaturanga Dandasana. I have always had difficulty with this asana and I realized that it was because I lacked the strength required for the pose. I then started working on strengthening the muscles required for the pose such as my core, arms muscles (including the biceps and triceps), and upper back muscles (rhomboids, trapezius, serratus anterior) and soon enough I saw myself getting closer to perfecting an asana that once seemed unachievable.
However it’s not just physical strength that is required for certain asanas, mental strength also plays a part. I found my mental strength to be very important when I was required to hold poses. I am sure we have all been there when our mind is telling us that your body can’t hold the pose any longer and we see ourselves succumbing to these thoughts. Once I started opposing these negative thoughts and remind myself that it is only a case of mind over matter, I could see a vast improvement in how long I was able to hold certain asanas. My mental strength also played a part when I was doing balancing poses such as the crow pose. I learnt that the trick to the crow pose is that you had to lean forward but I was always afraid that if I did that I would fall on my face. Using the help of yoga blocks and learning how to fall without injuring myself are some of the ways I used to diminish my fear of falling. Overcoming this fear hasn’t been easy but, for me, acknowledging the fear was the first step and as the day’s progress I see this fear in me fading.