When To Challenge Yourself (And When To Slow Down)

I love self-development. It’s kind of my raison d’etre and, as a life coach as well as a yoga teacher, it’s my personal mission to help more people transform their lives from the inside out. That said, I am so exhausted of the ‘PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN’ mantra that seems to permeate this sphere. Don’t get me wrong, building awareness of our perceived limitations is important. It’s empowering to challenge our fears and misguided mindsets as we up-level our lives and move forwards.

But when you’re stuck in your pain and can’t see a way out, you need support rather than someone shouting at you to go do The Thing at 5am every day. It’s a nice idea, sure, especially when you’re top of your game, but what if you’re exhausted, burnt out or struggling with depression? In fact, I worry that the loudest messaging coming from the self-help sphere right now can in fact be toxic for the people who need the most help. Help doesn’t always have to look like challenge; support is often what we need the most.

The Support Vs Challenge Matrix in Yoga Practice

One of my yoga teachers talks a lot about the ‘support / challenge matrix’ as a framework for teaching yoga. It’s become one of my favourite ‘secret recipes’ that I use in almost every private yoga class or coaching call. I’ve even taught our studio team to embrace the same philosophy. See, some days you need support more than you need to be challenged, or vice versa. And your mind and body often need different things to feel whole. That’s why I believe in flexibility around our yoga practice, and in our lives.

A private yoga class at our studio will often be balanced between the 4 quadrants, but not necessarily. Some days your whole practice can be more about support; other days will focus on challenge. Perhaps some private yoga classes will be geared around your headspace (support or challenge), and others purely to movement, although as our clients know, we often interweave the two.

In your yoga practice, support doesn’t always have to look like a 60-minute guided relaxation. That can absolutely be the right choice sometimes, but not necessarily every time. Without challenge, our practice becomes stagnant and boring over time. And challenge doesn’t have to look like one-fingered handstands! Some days even making it on to your mat can be challenging enough, and we fully acknowledge that. I’ve created a simple infographic below which provides some examples of how you can find balance between support and challenge through your own practice. I hope you find it helpful. 🙂

Co-Creating a Balanced Yoga Practice

Finding balance on your own can be hard. That’s why we’re here! Our yoga studio team is devoted to yoga (obviously), and we will always meet you where you are at. We’re passionate about helping you learn yoga in a way that feels supportive and/or challenging for you. You can find out more about our private yoga classes here.

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