Published on June 13th, 2016 | by Catherine Tingey0
What Is A Personal Yoga Practice
What is a Personal Yoga Practice? What is MY practice?
“You do yoga EVERY day?”
A lot of my clients have asked me this with wonder, and it always makes me smile. The thought of doing anything the same, every day, seems really tedious, doesn’t it?
The truth is my personal yoga practice doesn’t look much like my public yoga practice.
When I’m attending a class, I can’t help but be uber-cognizant of alignment. Does the pose ‘look correct’? Is there something I can do to get closer to the ‘full expression’ of the posture? If the teacher, usually a friend, walks by, will they give me an adjustment, or a correction?
While as a teacher, one my of goals is to de-emphasize the aesthetics of yoga asana – how our bodies look in poses as compared to our collective idea of ‘what a pose should look like’; as a student, I can’t help but be aware of exactly what I’m trying to move away from. Although this may sound schizophrenic, I think it’s indicative of just how much our egos worm their way into most things we do.
One of my goals as a teacher is to get students to feel comfortable developing their own practice.
That doesn’t have to be a daunting thing. The word ‘practice’ itself shouldn’t be scary because it implies doing something repeatedly. But this word ‘practice’ has become so part of the yoga canon that it IS intimidating. Students think they need to be leading themselves through a full 75 minute self-guided class on their mat, before work, with never an interruption.
This is totally unrealistic.
I get REALLY excited when I teach beginners and at the end of the session, they ASK for a pose. Or we begin the session and they’re already feeling to their bodies, trying to find some ease.
This IS the start of developing your personal practice. Tuning in. What’s going on in my body today? It’s not an intellectual mind-based exercise; it’s sensory.
And it doesn’t have to look at all like what you might do in a class, or a private session.
After about 15-20 private sessions, students have enough of a repertoire that they have FAVORITE poses, and they can take get on their mat without a guide.
Which takes me back to my original question – what is my personal yoga practice?
Well, it varies from day to day but it always includes:
. Some type of breathwork: either Breath of Fire or Single Nostril Breathing
. Some type of hip flexor stretch: low lunge, CRESCENT POSE , LIZARD
. Some type of spinal articulation: CAT-COW or Seated Cat-Cow, or wagging the hips in TABLE
The poses might be modified into less ‘full expression’ if I’m tired or short on time. Or they might be held for a while, and really worked and tweaked in the pose if I’m trying to figure out why I have some new weird pain or tightness somewhere.
My students are always surprised to learn that my body is pretty tight. It doesn’t look like it because I have a lot of flexibility, but I don’t start to feel really good and open until I’m sweating, and that only happens 1) in a heated room or 2) if I’m holding a pose for an eternity.
When I used to run competitively, I wouldn’t start to feel like my joints were oiled until mile 5 or so. It’s annoying, but I’m just part lizard, I guess. While travelling I’ve been known to crank up the heat in my room and turn it into a Bikram studio – feels so good! Doing this at home is hard on your electric bill so I no longer rely on my personal yoga practice to get me to that place of super sweaty bliss. If you’re like me, better to just find a yoga studio that uses gentle heat, or packs enough bodies in such that the ambient temperature raises 5-10 degrees.
Hopefully that demystifies the process of developing your yoga practice!
If you have any questions about developing your own practice, or would like to experience yoga in your home or office, always feel free to contact me.