There are days when I miss classes in the studio, because I’ve overslept; or held up by chores, or when I’m travelling. Or simply because I didn’t feel like making the trip down.
And then my goody angel voice whispers to me: self practice!!
First it’s a command: c’mon get up get going! You have to do it! Don’t be lazy! Then it becomes coaxing: it’s good for you! You know you need to stretch out those achey limbs! And cajoling: ok, just a quick one. 15 minutes. Not difficult!
Of course there are times when the mind & body are aligned and it’s smooth & easy.
Some of you will know what I’m talking about. It’s a combination of discipline, and the inner worry that you always need a teacher to guide you. But actually, a regular self practice helps build personal confidence, as well as improve the asanas.
If you’ve been thinking about it, now’s the time, and here are a few tips!
1. Set a timeframe. How much time do you have? 30 minutes? 50 minutes? Be realistic.
2. Decide what you want to do. Improve clarity & focus? General yin stretching? A dynamic flow to energise & strengthen a couple of asanas? You can’t do everything if you don’t have enough time.
3. Here are some options.
15 minutes? The sun salutation series is great for an overall stretch. How many rounds you complete depends on your practice- a more hatha or vinyasa one. And how many breaths you want to hold in your down dog, etc.
30 minutes? Start with a few rounds sun salutations, and move into specific areas of focus- core strengthening, loosening the hamstrings, heart opening, etc.
45 minutes? You’ll be able to work a deeper stretch by holding some poses longer and breathing into the areas.
And if you’ve got 1 hour or more, you can build a flow practice up into the final more complex pose. Or you can always do an Ashtanga practice.
The trick is to not be afraid to try, and to realise that nothing is cast in stone- you might go halfway through your practice only to find that your body actually needs a stretch somewhere else. And that’s ok! The beauty of a self practice is the flexibility to make things up as you go along.
Yoga is the integrated practice of mind, body & breath. The more you explore on your own, the easier it becomes. There are no set rules! Play your favourite music if you wish; go slower or faster as you need. Take a longer shivasana if it feels right!
The key is to try! And if you get stuck somewhere, go back to your teachers to make sure you’re doing it correctly!
But always remember to listen to your body and not to force things. Just enjoy the journey!