Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been highlighting the various ways students can begin a yoga practice in the comfort of their own home and have included resources for online classes, meditations, and tips to create a conducive environment. In this blog, I’ll be looking more at personalising the yoga practice so that students practise according to their needs.
Practising at home is really an empowering action as we use all of our intuition and knowledge to guide ourselves on the mat. At first this can be daunting as we worry if we’re doing it ‘right’, have quite a few false starts, and can wonder what to do next. As time goes on, a flow can be established as we memorise a sequence and move in time with our breath. But as every self-practitioner knows, there can be a danger of falling into ‘bad habits’ during a home practice as there’s no external eye to highlight misalignment, or to prevent us from pushing too far, which over months and years can accumulate in injury, burn-out, and stagnation.
So what to do?
Regularly attending a class can help to ‘keep on top of things’ so to speak, as the verbal cues and adjustments remind us what the alignment and breathing points are. Also, a group class is a wonderful opportunity to share an individual practice with other like-minded people, and can help to maintain inspiration.
Booking a private class is also incredible beneficial. The teacher can guide you through a sequence tailored to you, which includes alignment points specific to your body, and postures included that will compliment your lifestyle. Having been on the receiving end of private yoga classes when I first began a home practice, I see that it is the outside perspective, knowledge, and warmth of my teacher that really helped me to see my blindspots, which is always a danger when we get used to our own flow.
Although weekly tuition is an option, periodic sessions along with home practice can help to sharpen the awareness of your body and approach to yoga, which in the long run will empower you to create your own practice according to what is most beneficial for both the mind and body.
Workshops are also an excellent way to get tips and fresh insight on specific areas of the body or movements. It’s important to remember that what we do on the mat is movement – observing and stilling the mind through the body – so don’t feel like you have to stick to workshops being offered by the style of yoga you’re practising; often it is those workshops by other movement disciplines or schools of yoga that can provide a new lens in which to view the practice. Use the sequences you have as your foundation and then explore!
In my experience, finding around two sequences that you can regularly practice will allow for integration, discipline, and the ability to observe all aspects of your being and not get too caught up on what to do next. As the familiarity with the body and the fluctuations of the mind grows, you’ll begin to finesse your practice so it continually evolves and your yoga container becomes bigger. Always keep an open, inquisitive mind, and monitor your preferences for postures – chances are, those that feel good are practised for five long breaths, and the not so nice postures are five ultra-quick breaths. Be prepared to address what your strengths and weaknesses are, and seek to balance these in accordance with your goals and lifestyle.
If you have any tips you’d like to share, feel free to comment below or post on this yoga’s FaceBook page.
Thanks for reading.