Goals, goals, goals! We’re all about goals. Setting goals do often help us get to where we want.
Now, maybe you’re thinking that yoga is not about goals, and you may be right. However, yoga is a pursuit and people do it for different reasons. But even if you do yoga as a mind-body practice to help you get out of the rat race mindset, I don’t believe that setting yoga goals is contrary to anything yoga.
Let’s face it, when left to our own devices, we often don’t get much done … at least I don’t. But when I articulate a goal or goals that I really want to achieve, I get things done.
To that end, the following is a list yoga goals you could incorporate into your practice.
1. Identify your least flexible body part and focus on it for 1 month
Maybe you have tight calves. So, downward facing dog doesn’t feel very good. You might tend to avoid working on your calves for this reason. However, a great yoga goal is to identify your least flexible body parts and to focus on them for 1 month. You just might progress to the point where you won’t avoid those stretches any longer. Power Vinyassa or Vinyassa, very effective Ashtanga yoga styles, are a really good way to do this.
2. Do yoga for 5 to 10 minutes every 90 minutes throughout the work day
Whether you have a desk job, are a stay-at-home parent or have a physically demanding job, try doing mini-yoga sessions throughout the day. You can do simple poses that don’t require a mat. There are many desk yoga routines you can check out, which can be incorporated into any job.
3. Do yoga once a day
This may be a tall order, but you’ll be amazed how great you’ll feel after 30 days if you stick to doing yoga at least once a day. I’m not saying this is easy to accomplish given our busy lives, but once the habit is formed, you just might find it effortless in no time. I have found that remembering how good it feels once you have done your yoga practice always helps to just get to the practice.
4. Attend a live class once a week
It’s easy to fall into a home-practice rut doing the same old yoga DVD over and over.
There really is no substitute for doing yoga in a live class with a great teacher. If you’ve been skipping out on your yoga studio, set a goal to start attending at least once a week … you will notice a difference.
5. Focus on a new pose once a week
There are thousands of poses varying in difficulty. Whether you’re new to yoga or experienced, there are always new poses we can add to our practice to expand our practice. Sometimes a new pose may be a variation of a pose we already do.
Adding a new pose to your sessions each week is an excellent way to expand your practice.
Metta Yoga in Wellington strives to keep classes varied and interesting while working on familiar poses to gain a deeper depth and knowledge of how that pose feels in your body.
6. Do the one pose you don’t like the most every day for 1 month
Maybe you don’t like chair pose, or maybe sleeping swan. And maybe it isn’t even because they are hard. We all have poses we don’t care doing. Instead of avoiding those poses, set a goal of purposely incorporating your least favourite pose and to do it at least once a week, and if possible, once a day. Soon you may find that you do start liking doing it. Often we avoid a pose for reasons of discomfort or maybe we feel we aren’t able to do it. Just remembering that practising yoga is not a competition and the end result is not the goal, helps. Learning a pose is never ending and is a journey. It is the journey we can enjoy en learn from.
7. Add 10 minutes to Savasana pose at the end of every session
Savasana pose (lying down on your back) may seem like a benign pose and a waste of time, but it’s not. In fact, it’s an important relaxation pose, especially at the end of a yoga session.
But, many times we skip Savasana or cut it short. Instead of doing the old 30 second Savasana treatment … resolve to really develop your Savasana pose and do it for at least 10 minutes at the end of every yoga routine.
8. Bring a family member or friend to yoga class (spread the word)
You love yoga so why not gently encourage friends and family to join you at your yoga class. They may hate it … but they just may love it if they give it a chance.
Yoga is a terrific activity to do with a partner, friend and/or your kids.
9. Read one yoga/meditation/philosophy book over the next 30 days
Doing yoga is more important than reading about it. However, reading about it is good in moderation to expand your knowledge and to gain a deeper understanding of the various philosophies. Besides, reading is relaxing.
10. Try a new routine every week for 3 months
Stop doing the same old stale routine. Expand your yoga repertoire and resolve to try a new routine every week for the next 3 months. This may mean attending a different yoga class at your studio, buying some DVDs and or joining an online yoga routine website.
11. Meditate for 20 minutes every day
For many, yoga sessions get done, but meditation falls to the wayside because it’s not physical and its benefits are not so tangible. However, the benefits of meditation are profound … so a great yoga goal is to incorporate meditation into your yoga practice.
12. Do a radically different yoga style for 1 month
If you’ve been focusing on one or two styles for a long time, branch out and try a different style. For example, if you’ve been doing Hot Yoga, try gentle or Ashtanga yoga.
13. Do 1 core-focused yoga session each week
Developing a strong core is important for musculoskeletal health. Yoga core sessions are great for building a strong core … so resolve to incorporate some serious core training each week into your yoga practice.
Note, core isn’t necessarily about 6-pack abs … it’s more about a strong and healthy core for over all musculo skeletal health.
14. Create a weekly 8-pronged focused yoga session
There are, generally speaking 8 types of poses. They are seated poses, twists, forward bends, standing, balance poses, core, backbends and inversion poses. A great yoga goal is to establish a practice that incorporates all 8 over the course of a week. You can incorporate all 8 within a session or over the course of several sessions.
15. Complete a pre-designed yoga program (Power Yoga/Iyengar Yoga program)
Some yoga studios and many DVDs have multi-class progressive courses you can do. Most of the time most people do one-off sessions, which are great … but you can mix up your yoga practice by doing a pre-designed progressive course either at your studio and/or from a DVD/book.
16. Get 200 Hour Certified
If you really want to take your yoga practice to the next level, do a yoga teacher training course. You don’t have to aspire to teach. Many non-teachers take teacher training to deepen their practice. It’s costly and time-consuming, but it will take your yoga to the next level.
17. Go on a yoga retreat
Combine vacation and yoga by going on a yoga retreat. It’s a great way to get away from it all while enjoying a deep yoga experience in a live setting with an accomplished teacher and fellow yogis.
18. Do a cleanse (if really ambitious, do a cleanse every 3 months)
Cleanses can refresh our bodies and minds. Some people do cleanses regularly. Just be sure you do a healthy cleanse … some are pretty extreme. Consult your doctor about any cleanse you propose doing. A nutritionist can help you design a good and healthy cleansing routine.
19. Start Pranayama
Pranayama (mindful breathing) is like meditation … it tends to be avoided. However, pranayama can have a profound impact on your life and practice. Just be sure to learn and do pranayama with an accomplished yoga teacher experienced and knowledgeable about pranayama.
Goals can be fun and healthy. Avoid getting too fixated … but by setting a goal you can take your practice to the next level and learn something new about yoga and you.
Namaste – sending you warmth
Metta Yoga, Wellington, New Zealand.