Everyone will experience the dreaded plateau at some point. If it happens for a few months, than it is natural and okay. If it goes on for 6 months to a year, than something is wrong. Below are some tips to help.
GET OR ADD A NEW TEACHER TO YOUR LINE UP
A new teacher can see you with different eyes-It is a part of human nature and biology to get desensitized to things and people that are apart of our every day environment. A new yoga teacher can see things that your current yoga teacher may be over looking or may be making assumptions about.
If you want to get over a plateau and take your practice to the next level, you need a teacher who:
-Will force you out of your comfort zone: the steady and comfortable seat talked about in the Yoga Sutras is really about seated meditation and lotus, however, even when applied to yoga poses, the steadiness comes with hard work and time. To get out of a plateau, you need a teacher who is going to push you to do things you normally would not do on your own.
-Who will not baby you or allow you to be lazy
-Who will not tolerate sloppiness- A sloppy transition is often a sign of a student who is trying to bypass strength and or flexibility in order to get into a pose or to quickly bypass a transition they cannot do. This strength and flexibility is often what is needed to get out of the plateau.
-Who understands alignment-This doesn't mean that they have a degree in exercise physiology or can name every muscle and bone in your body. This means they have an understanding of how the body works and how placement of bones and use of muscles effect poses. Many times, we experience plateaus because we are not using the right muscles to do the job or our bones are out of alignment.
-Who practices yoga themselves-I, like many others, assumed that yoga teachers practiced yoga. When I actually entered the industry and started teaching myself, I found out that was far from the truth. Yoga teachers can learn the basics of teaching from teacher training but those little tweaks and insights that will get you out of a plateau, are learned from actually practicing.
-Who will tell you the truth...even when it is ugly
-Who will give assists or adjustments-People learn in different ways. Touch,as seen in massage and physical therapy, are recognized as highly effective therapies. Assists and adjustments, done properly, will rewire your brain and body and help you overcome plateaus.
-Who practices what they preach-this doesn't mean that their practice looks like Cirque Du Soliel or they are perfect. It means that that they apply the things they are telling you to themselves.
GET OUT OF THE CROWD..... SOMETIMES
The energy of a packed yoga class is amazing, fun and can be highly transformative. However, if you are getting lost in the class than you will not get the individual attention you need to get out of the plateau.
GET INTO THE CROWD...SOMETIMES
On the flip side, the energy and support of a crowd can also inspire you to do things you would not by yourself.
ADD A DIFFERENT STYLE OF YOGA TO YOUR LINEUP
Different styles of yoga approach things differently and this may be what you need to get out of the plateau. Good ones to try and why:
-Ashtanga(For plateus resulting from strength, stamina, muscle weakness, excess weight and technique): Ashtanga, in the style of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois,takes some of easiest poses in existence and mixes them with some of the most difficult poses in existence in a way that constantly keeps you on your toes. Just when you think you have it mastered, the teacher adds another sequence, pose, or technique that blows your mind and has you feeling like a novice all over again. If you really want to kick up your practice, do it Mysore style. Mysore style Ashtanga is taught one on one in a group setting. It is the closest thing to a private you can get without the private price.
Power Yoga/Vinyasa Yoga(for plateaus resulting from stamina, coordination,excess weight and muscle weakness)- The poses by themselves may not be super hard but they are linked together in a way that gets your heart pumping and your muscles firing resulting in a yoga based workout.
-Hot Yoga(for plateaus resulting from muscle tightness, stamina and excess weight): the heat opens up the muscles quickly and is a great challenge for endurance
-Deep Stretch/Yin/Long Slow Deep(for plateaus resulting from muscles tightness):these classes open the muscles and connective tissues using long holds
-Iyengar/Anusara(for plateaus resulting from technique): These highly technical classes will result in increased body awareness that will help you to pinpoint the exact error in muscle activation and bone placement that may be causing the plateau.
ATTEND WORKSHOPS: In a workshop, the teacher focuses on a few poses or a major technique and breaks them down. Workshops help you to see little small details that may be holding you back.
ADDRESS ANY MENTAL ISSUES THAT MAY BE GETTING IN YOUR WAY
Stories we tell ourselves about what we can or cannot do is the number one barrier to getting over a plateau. It doesn't matter what class we try or what teacher we take on, if the mind is not right, we will not change and transform.
Video of the Day: Kino Ashtanga Yoga Demo