Developing your own self-practice can be quite a challenging thing to do but I really can’t recommend it more. I’m sure as a Yoga instructor I should be telling you to always go to Yoga classes to get your hit, but alas, I cannot lie as it would go against the 8 limbs of Yoga I just wrote about here.
You might say I was a bit different from the norm because I started Yoga on my own, not going to classes. So for me the first experiences of going to classes were more bizarre than doing it alone everyday. Of course, the benefits of doing Yoga in a class is, as a beginner, you’re instructed what to do and corrected along the way so you have a lesser chance of potentially hurting yourself. From the moment you practice with a Yoga instructor, you take up their technique, which I love. I love learning what their practice might be. It’s like you’re getting part of what makes them, them, you see why they love Yoga. Having said that, I’ve often found I don’t like the version of practice I’m taught. Maybe I’m too picky or have too much of a conception of what I want from a Yoga class, but if a Yoga instructor isn’t sharing their practice or giving out an incredible energy, it turns what should be a great experience into one which is rather disappointing.
Starting off Yoga on my own, instead of in a class, made it a personal journey and when I realized how great it made me feel, I was completely hooked. Growing up a lover of all forms of dance, Yoga reminded me of getting lost in a flow or sequence. It also made my mental chatter slow down considerably. When I was at a Yoga class the instructor mentioned trying not to judge your movements as good or bad but to only be doing them. I felt that was what I was doing, but the reinforcement made me more aware of being with my body rather than pushing or resisting based on judgments of what I should be capable of.
How do you start a self-practice? It’s as simple as that…you just start. You could sit and do some breathing exercises or a short meditation in the morning. Or try putting on some music while doing sun-salutations. The beauty of it is it’s your own practice so each day you can mould it into what you feel you need on that day. If you’re new to Yoga there’s a host of resources online and books you can read, follow and be inspired. Supplementing a Yoga class you go to and your own self-practice would be ideal as you can build on what you learn. Some days your practice might be non-existent, really short or a struggle, but showing up for yourself, however often you practice, with self-discipline, self-love and self-exploration will be the best gift for you, from you.
So go to classes; try different styles, teachers, environments and times of day. If you find yourself really getting into it or you’re just curious, try also setting up a self-practice. If you’re a morning person. the morning really is the optimum time to do it. Above is a picture of my garden where I did a self-practice in the morning, in the sun, in England. Unheard of! Even if you only have 10-20 or 30 minutes to do it, it’s going to set you up for the day. I’ve set up a consistent daily self-practice but I was then shocked to be told on my teacher training I should actually be practising twice a day. There’s always more to be done is the lesson I took away from that. What you can fit in, what suits you, and what progresses you is great. I don’t think practice needs to be prescribed but try out a self-practice and let me know how you find it!
What are you doing on your own each day to help you progress?