Lighten Up: 3 Tips to “Float” In Your Practice

Spring is here with its warm weather, fresh scents, and bright sunshine. It’s a season of growth, exploration, and even transformation. You may feel lighter both attitudinally and physically, which can lend well to experiencing a shift in your yoga practice. Especially when it comes to transitions such as “floating” forward from the back of your mat to the front.

You hear the word “float” and it’s likely you think of lightness and freedom. Perhaps you hold an image of yourself floating on water and the peace the rhythmic waves bring to your well being. In yoga, instructors intentionally use words like this to encourage you to first think of how a physical sensation may feel, long before it may actually occur. That is the case when it comes to the ever-challenging “float forward”.

The transition from feeling like a boulder crashing down a mountain to feeling like a dandelion seed wafting in the wind is not a sensation that happens overnight. It may take months to years of practice depending on how often you practice, the style of yoga you practice, and any fears you hold around the idea that momentarily… you’re only on your hands (yipes!).

“Practice and all is coming.” – Guruji

It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It’s what you learn about yourself along the way. However, if you feel that your body and mind are in alignment to start lightly landing at the top of your mat, like a butterfly on a flower, then give these 3 tips a try:

  1. Literally lighten up.
    No this isn’t the latest diet fad. Instead, try to have a large gap of time between your last meal and your yoga practice. When your body is free of the digestive process everything is more available to engage your center, aka your bandhas. The minimum suggested time between eating and your practice is two hours. However, the longer you can wait the lighter you’ll feel when moving.
  2. Start with some active pranayama.
    The primary style of breath practice in vinyasa yoga is Ujjayi breath. This is a powerful breath that creates heat in the body, but not necessarily the most optimal for activating the Mula and Uddiyana bandhas (these are what lift you high!). Instead, try Kapalabhati (breath of fire) or Uddiyana bandha breath. These styles of breath are deeper and more active, creating a stronger connection between mind and the center of your body.
  3. Keep your hips high.
    I watch students time and time again sink their hips way back to their heels right before springing to the top of their mat. They are searching for the momentum to get them there. However, momentum adds in many other factors that contribute to the fear of floating forward, such as speed, weight distribution, and the general challenge of proprioception. Your center of gravity is at the base of your spine, so save yourself some work and think of keeping it lifted, even if you’re bending your knees to get some spring.


Justina & Ignite Yoga

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