Yoga Should Be Learnt Not Just Practised

“Learn Yoga” sounds strange, right? Yoga has always been “practised” not “learnt”.

Conventional wisdom tells us that so long as you roll out your mat often enough, do the same postures over and over again, somehow you will be able to master this thing called “yoga”. This idea is born out of images that we see of people meditating, gurus effortlessly coming into challenging yoga poses. This seems simple enough, just go to classes and eventually you will get there.

For people like me who want a clear path to anything, I need to understand my purpose in choosing yoga and have a definite and measurable way to progress in my practice. Then comes the question: How do I learn yoga?

Why doesn’t conventional yoga wisdom work?

Yoga originates in India where everyone starts their yoga practice from the cradle. Yoga is part of their daily ritual and such practice shapes infants’ bodies into yoga-friendly bodies. This means that through daily practice, their muscles acquire strength, hamstrings are lengthened, hip flexors are loosened, core muscles are automatically engaged when they go about their daily activities.

In the Western world, however, most of us commence our yoga practice in adulthood when our skeletal and muscular structures are already fully developed. We have a defined body to work with, not one that can still be molded. So what seems to come naturally and effortlessly to those who had the opportunity to grow their own yoga friendly bodies is an alien concept to us in the Western world.

What will work for us then?

We need to strip yoga practice back to the basics, work out what we need to actively learn to prepare our bodies for a safe practice that allows our practice to grow in a sure and structured way.

We embrace our physical limitations (this is where mind over body will not work) and actively build our body strength step by step.

A building with shaky foundation will not last, just as hundreds of hours of yoga practice with incorrect techniques will not get us anywhere. To this add down time for injury nursing and recovery will see any practice go backwards.

How do we Learn?

Let’s look at the Stages of Learning (this applies to everything)

  • Stage 1           Unconscious Incompetence
  • Stage 2           Conscious incompetence
  • Stage 3           Conscious Competence
  • Stage 4           Unconscious Competence

What do they mean?

Unconscious Incompetence is where we are not aware of what we don’t know and therefore do not see the need to learn

Conscious Incompetence is where we know there are skills that we need to learn so we actively find ways to acquire the skills

Conscious Competence is where through practice and intellectual pursuit, we know that we have acquired the requisite skills

Unconscious Competence is where we have really mastered the skills and they become part of us. We do not need to think about applying the skills every time, they just come naturally

At which stage of learning are you with your yoga practice?

Stage 1           Unconscious Incompetence

There is no awareness as to what skills or understanding of yoga we need to practise safely and build a good foundation. You are told to imitate shapes that look like yoga poses and think that is enough.

Stage 2           Conscious Incompetence

You know certain techniques and engagement of certain muscles are required to produce the shapes which resemble yoga poses.

Stage 3           Conscious Competence

You embark on an active journey to investigate and learn the correct techniques, build strength in your body for a good foundation and ever evolving practice.

Stage 4           Unconscious Competence

Correct techniques and body awareness become part of your constitution and your body carries out the flow/movements without thinking. This is the epitome of learning where you have mastered the relevant skills.

The learning process starts with the ABC of Yoga at XTC.

Whichever learning stage you are at, it helps to revisit the basics.

We know that everyone’s body is different, individual attention is hard to come by in large classes and we understand the frustration of yogis who have put a lot of time attending classes who still feel lost and unsupported in their pursuit of yoga.

We have stripped yoga practice back to the basics:

  • Arm Strength
  • Balance
  • Core Strength

Introducing Our Yoga Progression Series

In addition to your practice in the studio, every 4 weeks, you will be guided through a take home sequence designed to gradually build your A–arm strength, B–balance and C–core strength.

All you need to do is practise each sequence for 30 days and then come back for the next one.

You can be building core strength for the first month, arm strength plus core the second month, balance and core the third month and so on. You will see progress in your practice in no time not to mention the increased energy level for your day.

To ensure that you are making progress, we will do a body composition and evaluate your yoga practice every month to help you grow your practice.

Want to know more? Contact us on 03 8528 1001 or email us on  mob@yogaxtc.com.au for a confidential discussion.