The Power Of A Personal Practice
Everyone comes to yoga with a different motivation – loosing weight, reducing stress and improving flexibility are usually what get us to show up in the yoga studio. However, recently I have noticed a shift – more and more students are telling me their motivation for practicing yoga has more to do with spirituality, than touching their toes. When I hear this, my ears perk up, my eyes sparkle a little brighter – and my response is usually,’what does that mean for you?’
Just as we all come to yoga for a different reason, connecting with the spiritual side of the practice can be a very unique experience. While some of us resonate with the traditional teachings of yoga from India, we also come to the practice with our own culture and history. I LOVE group classes, don’t get me wrong, I teach loads of them and think they are valuable beyond measure. However, there comes a time in every yogi’s life where they crave something a little deeper – a little more personal, a bit meatier, if you will.
This is where the idea of a personal practice comes into play. A personal practice is time you set aside for yourself (daily, or otherwise) where you get get quiet and listen to the needs of your body-mind, and respond accordingly. It is a big step to take your practice into your own hands – but the benefits of practicing on your own are worth it. Starting a home practice is empowering and efficient. You can do more in less time because you only need to address YOUR needs, and not the needs of a whole class. A home practice can also build confidence, and embed yoga as a way of life – rather than something you do.
Once you initiate the process of rolling out your mat, or sitting on your cushion by yourself a dialogue begins between your mind, your body, your soul. This type of practice is very personal and can look completely different from person to person, day to day. Whatever your style of practice though, a personal practice is a statement to the universe that you are willing to make time for your deeper self.
If you are ready to take get personal with your practice, here are some of my favourite tips.
1. Have a 1-on-1 with an experienced yoga teacher – If you are new to yoga, or lack the anatomical knowledge to know how to sequence poses, you can book a private session with a yoga teacher and you can work together to create your personal sequence for you to take home.
2. Whatever you decide to practice – it’s always a good idea to move the spine in all directions – Folding forward, bending side to side, twisting and bending backward. This way – the spine stays healthy and mobile no matter what you are doing.
3. Set a timer – I find that it works much better for me if I decide ahead of time how long I have to practice (i.e. 30 mins), set a timer for 5 minutes less (i.e. 25) then take savasana. Just showing up is the hard part – what ever happens on your mat after that is a bonus.
4. Practice listening to your body – one of the big benefits of a personal practice is learning to listen to the signals your body is sending you – what do you need today? When you can cultivate this level of mindfulness on your mat, it will begin to seep into the rest of your life.
5. Practice Self Compassion – Creating a consistent home practice is one of the biggest challenges of new and experienced yogis alike. I recently wrote about it on my blog, so if you notice that your commitment to your home practice ebbs & flows, know that it’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just get back on your mat.
Starting a personal practice is a huge step on the path of yoga and self awareness – and sometimes you need a hand. If you have questions, or want to work together, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporting yogis with their personal path is one of my favourite ways to share the benefits of yoga & meditation.