Do you always train with a specific goal – like mastering a handstand – in mind or do you just have a generic one, such as improving your mobility? Or, maybe, you don’t have one at all?
Not having a specific goal for your training may actually help you improve more than chasing one precise end result because it allows you to develop a variety of skills. It can even be a game changer but it doesn’t mean you train aimlessly – you have to decide what your motivations are and train accordingly.
Yoga and goals
When you start doing yoga, you may have a few ideas about what you want from it – increase mobility, work on tight muscles and fascia, relieve back pain, strengthen your core, or perhaps you want to learn how to do a headstand. Some of us start doing yoga to balance our other training, unwind, and recover better.
Some of the above are specific and other generic goals – and there’s a big difference!
If you set a specific goal, such as being able to touch your toes, master a handstand or do the splits, it may be a great motivator but it shouldn’t take over your whole practice. Our egos are often too strong, so once there’s a goal in sight, we tend to pursue it and neglect a lot of things in the process.
It’s the reason why many sports and yoga injuries happen – a specific goal can give you tunnel vision and throw your training off balance. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be able to touch your toes but it should be a part of a broader goal of helping you to develop your practice.
Which brings us to generic goals! Things like improving your mobility, strength or wanting to learn how to meditate are all generic goals.
As yoga is an all-round practice for your body and mind, regular training with a generic goal can bring amazing results. However, there are a few key aspects and guidelines to follow to make the most of it.
What’s your motivation?
Ask yourself why you want to train in the first place. Your motivation can be physical – improving your functional strength, flexibility or gaining new skills. Or it can be a desire to work on your mindfulness, relieve stress and learn how to breathe better.
The answer to what your motivation is is key to shaping your training, providing the framework and outlining your generic goal. Will it be more strength-focused, or will the emphasis be on mobility, recovery or meditation? Of course, you may not have one main motivation – you can want it all!
When you’re training with a generic goal, rather than a specific one, you’re working on continuous small improvements in all aspects of your yoga practice. Your motivation will decide where the emphasis will be but you’re not sacrificing anything along the way.
Decide on key aspects or intentions
Once you know what your generic yoga goal is, it’s time to decide on some key elements of your training. For example, you may decide that you want to focus on strength and mindfulness and that you’ll practice every other day. Or you want to do yoga to stretch and increase mobility post-training and do some breathwork every morning.
Sure, you may have a vision of being able to perform a certain yoga pose or master a difficult transition but it’s probably not the only reason why you do yoga. Instead of a pose being a specific goal, you can incorporate it into each of your practices to work on it but also set some other intentions.
The beauty of having a generic goal and a set of intentions is that it removes those self-imposed limits and widens your training horizon.
You may also realize that you have a split motivation – you may want to do post-training yoga because it helps you to wind down and recover, and then you also want to do yoga on your off days to improve your functional strength. That’s great! In this case, you’d have two generic goals – no problem!
Work out a schedule
An absolutely vital element to any kind of training is that you show up two to three times a week. If you don’t, you may not see any progress and lose motivation. If you make a schedule, it will soon become a habit to do yoga at the given times – it will simply become your new normal.
Perhaps the only disadvantage of training without a specific goal is that because there’s nothing pushing you, it’s just down to your discipline. That’s why it’s important to have a schedule to stick to and a yoga app can be a great help.
It’s good to plan at least some of your yoga for mornings because that’s the least likely time to be interfered with. Later in the day, a lot can happen to mess up your schedule but in the morning, all you have to do is get up early.
If you’re unwell, skipping your practice is not a big deal. If, on the other hand, something came up and you didn’t train, it’s best to try to squeeze in at least a shorter practice later that day. Stick to your routine, even if it has to be altered, and you’ll be rewarded by steady progress.
See our pro tips for how to set up a successful yoga practice at home!
No matter what your motivation is, you probably want to feel good about what you’re doing. If you only have a generic goal, you’re not stressing yourself so much with expectations or a deadline that usually come with specific goals. That means you can be more present, mindful and enjoy your training.
It also means that you’re not postponing feeling good for when you’ve reached your end goal. You probably know this one: “I’ll be happy when I’ve achieved…” It’s time to change that – your training should make you feel good about yourself every single time!
If you know you’re not feeling 100%, you can change your practice to an easier one. If you’re feeling super pumped, you can go for a more challenging option. You are more in charge because you instinctively know what you need, and that’s great!
Have fun with the freedom of training without deadlines!
How to train without a specific goal?
While all this sounds amazing, many of us are lost when it comes to deciding how and where to start. And that’s where professional guidance comes in extra handy! Skill Yoga offers many well-rounded yoga programs tailored to generic goals, and evolving with you as you develop your practice. Try one of these:
New to yoga
If you are completely new to yoga, try the Beginner Yoga for Athletes program. There are five 30-minute videos to give you firm foundations for your yoga practice. You can repeat the whole series every week, and when you feel ready, move on to more challenging stuff, such as the Flow Program!
Improve your mobility
Work on your strength
Yoga is excellent at building strength and making you move with ease. The Strength Foundations program is a great place to start. When you want to take it to the next level, there’s the Strength Intermediate series for you!
Complement your training with yoga
If you want to do yoga immediately before or after your other training, it can be the perfect match! Try pre-workout Warm-Up Yoga, post-workout Recovery Yoga, or the unique Skill Yoga Meditation Coach to take a break from every day worries.
No strict goal is the best goal
By now, you hopefully understand why not having a specific end goal is a great approach to your training. It will give you a well-rounded practice, make you feel better and help you progress.
Pick your generic goal/s and start training with Skill Yoga today!