How to start your own yoga exploration? 6 tips on How to deepen your pratice by yourself.
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
You have been practicing yoga for a while, and now you got interested in learning more about alignment, anatomy, sequencing, philosophy, and other aspects.
You want to develop your passion without leaving your home, with little to no cost of trainings or courses.
Or you just started yoga and immediately want to find out more and immerse yourself in this world.
Or maybe you are already into deepening your practice, but searching for new ways to connect, learn and explore yoga.
Maybe you are intending to take a teacher training in the future, but are now looking for ways to prepare for it as best as you can?
Whatever your scenario is, if you have ever wondered how to explore yoga independently by yourself, where to start and where to go, here are some ways you can do that, grow your knowledge, satisfy your interests, connect to the community and nurture your own style.
1. Find and follow your favorite teachers
Yoga style that you are practising is highly dependent on the teacher that you are working with. That means, if you prefer some yoga styles, you are going to follow certain teachers, and others will not resonate well with you. Sometimes it is the opposite – you know a teacher, whom you really admire and look up to, and that influences what kind of yoga you will learn and do.
Anyway, finding your favorite teachers is a great point to start at. They will be the people inspiring you on and off the mat, motivating to work on certain poses and engaging in significant discussions in the community. They will make you think certain way, like all the influences we have from the society.
So go online! Go on YouTube, browse different teachers' videos, try out different sequences with them. Take some classes on Glo with various instructors. You can do the same in the real world, try out different yoga studios in your area, go to classes of different teachers in there, see what resonates with you best.
When it does resonate, think about it for a while: what has made you feel that way? Is it the aspects that the teacher is focusing on (spiritual, alignment, breathing)? Was it the pace of the class? Was it the atmosphere? Was there anything particular in the language that you liked?
Finding your best teachers helps you to discover the style you like the most in more depth. Thinking about why is it exactly that you prefer this teacher over another, helps you to identify important aspects that you want to focus on, that are important to you in your practice, because it means you need it! It means this is something that you want to explore more in depth, where you want to go down the rabbit holes and find out more about certain topics. This is your inner self telling yourself what you need at the moment. Trust it! And enjoy it.
Follow the teacher on their Instagram or Facebook, subscribe to their newsletter or YouTube channel, visit their blog. Hear what they have to say, engage in discussion, learn from them, get inspired and soak in all the good juices!
In time, your preferences may change. We all grow in all aspects, you also grow in your yoga discovery journey. Your preferred teachers may change and this is a natural part of the process. You may get saturated with their message (this happens!), you may notice that you do not progress any more, or not progress in the direction you would like to. Your direction may evolve and change, like everything in our lives, and sometimes there is time for some fresh energy.
So keep searching, keep digging, be active and get to know different teachers. Be curious. Subscribe to my newsletter, where I will be talking about new teachers I happen to like and many other yoga curiosities that I find worth talking about. Let me know in the comment section, if you would like one of the discussion panels about favorite teachers in our community!
In the beginning of my yoga journey, I was one of the faithful Yoga with Adriene's fan. All the challenges, all the yoga calendars were mine. It was fun! She introduced me into yoga in a gentle, loving and sustainable way. Adriene was my favorite teacher for a very long time. When I noticed I do not progress anymore with her, I wanted more intense and challenging practice, I tended to practise a lot with Cat Meffan. My style changed into vinyasa, and I enjoyed it a lot during the first Corona lockdown. Now, in my intense exploration, on the top of my list is definitely Jason Crandell. I take trainings with him, listen to Adrea Ferretti's podcasts, where he often gives interviews, I read his blogs, and I have so much fun doing it.
2. Listen to podcasts
Podcasts have become such an important medium in all the disciplines, everybody is listening to podcasts about pretty much everything. There are of course yoga podcasts as well, and they are a great way to deepen you practice. You can listen to them while cleaning your flat, commuting to and from work, or just anytime. It is a great way to use this time, and if you love yoga, why not listen about it as much as you can?
Those can be podcasts by your favorite teachers (if they have one), or others, like Yoga Journal podcasts. Listening to a podcast by somebody you value, allows you to get to know this person better, have a deeper understanding of them and have a bit of personal touch, which is always nice.
The podcasters often engage you in the conversations, keep you up to date in the current events and news in the yoga community. This helps you to get a better overview of the current state of the world that you are interested in. By listening to the interviews, debates and programs, you create your own point of view on the discussed topics, you broaden your horizons and learn new things.
And, there are always some inspirations: somebody mentions a book, a website, a webinar, some interesting perks about the pose or breathing technique. In the podcasts, you can constantly stumble upon things that you haven't heard about yet and have to check them up. This may be the one step to begin another interesting journey! Don't miss that chance.
3. Visit websites
There are many resources online, but we need to make the choice of what provides most value and is actual quality content. Renowned websites and portals are yet another good source of knowledge and keeping up to date with trusted yoga information. They are done by professionals, and you can find solid data in there. They are also a source of a lot of inspiration for me, from anatomy videos to articles about yogi tea. I often visit following pages:
Yoga Alliance (yogaalliance.com)
Is a certifying body for yoga schools and teachers all over the world. They are a non-governmental organization aiming to improve the high quality, safety, accessibility and equity in teaching yoga. They do not regulate any aspects of yoga, but they do provide their own certification, and by far, this is the most known yoga certification at the moment. Not to be confused, you are still a yoga teacher even if you don't have their certification. Yoga Alliance has many online learning resources, and they have free online live webinars which are then recorded and can be found on their website. Another great way to educate yourself.
Is a website made by people passionate about therapeutic properties of yoga and having a mission to spread education about yoga and make it accessible for everybody. They have a board of renowned teachers providing resources (articles, videos, handbooks), for example Judith Hanson Lasater.
Yoga Journal (yogajournal.com)
They call themselves the number one in-depth source of yoga instructions, guided meditations, yogic wisdom and inspiration. There is a broad range of readings there, plenty of resources and current information from the yoga world. The quality of their content is confirmed – famous teachers, e.g. like Jason Crandell or Amy Ippoliti, are providing them with all the good material.
Surely, the online world is infinite, so I only named a few for you to begin with, but I think this is a good starting point.
Follow them also on Instagram to get all the news instantly and be on top of what is going on.
If you have more of valuable websites to add, feel free to let me know in the comment section below!
4. Read books
That's correct, good old books! There is still some foundational knowledge that we, people deepening their practice, really need to go through. They will contribute to your better and deeper understanding of various aspects like anatomy, alignment, philosophy and history of yoga. Reading them is something like reading Shakespeare, if you want to become a poet, I guess. Here I have a list of books I read in the beginning of my yoga journey to give me a good base to work from. They are in no particular order.
Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
Well, the name speaks for itself. For me, it was not an easy read, but this book sheds contemporary science's light on how our body works during yoga practice. Detailed drawings of each pose show which muscles are working and what kind of work they are doing. Different body systems are analyzed in regards to yoga practice.
Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar
Contemporary Yoga bible, no discussions here. Introduction of yoga tradition and philosophy gives you a spiritual overview, and after that follows a description of alignment and guidelines for each of the 200 poses. B.K.S. Iyengar is so often referred to in the yoga community, that you just can't miss this book.
The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali
Is one of classical yoga philosophy's foundational texts. It contains 195 aphorisms from Sanskrit language, that are concerning theory and practice of yoga. It is something like a yogi's spiritual guide. Maybe it is not a lecture for before going to bed, but it is worth to take one Sutra per day, week or month and just mentally work your way through it. Think about it, slowly process it, implement it in your life.
There are of course many other books, but those are the basics. I am curious to hear, what others book did YOU read and find them essential for every yoga explorer. Let me know!
5. Use Mobile apps
Our phones are always at hand. When you are waiting in the line, or being bored in the traffic, pull your phone out and learn some yoga! There are many apps for yoga education, but I like the one that is showing you which muscles contract, stretch or work isometrically at every yoga pose. They videos in the app also explain the basic pose alignment, as well as what are common problems or mistakes and how to prevent them. I think this is great learning resource on the go. The app I use is called Yoga by Muscle&Motion.
6. Subscribe to Sovvasana Newsletter :)
Last but not least, this blog is the response to all the situations described in the beginning of this article. Here you can find many free resources, find guidance to your yoga exploration. In the beginning it can be very confusing, but I will show you how to start and where to lead your journey. This is a place to get inspired and gather new ideas what to work on, which area to explore. In this our virtual space you will educate yourself and grow your yoga knowledge. You will find out what is necessary and important to know and master in early times of the process, so you are not missing on anything significant. We will build a community where we can get to know each other, discuss the topics that interest us, interact with each other, learn and inspire each other. Let's build the best environment for growth and learning.
Those are the ways you can start your yoga exploration. As I said above, there are much more resources, but we don't want to get overwhelmed in the beginning. Let's keep it simple, and not spread ourselves too thin at the start.
You can always go to my Resources page, where I link my important resources about yoga that I've mentioned in the post, like websites, blogs, teachers, podcasts, books, etc.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me, I will do my best to help you at email@example.com, or over the website's chat.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy your journey on and off the mat!