So often, yoga students report feeling both excited and intimidated about the idea of building their very own yoga practice. What exactly does that mean? And how does one go about bringing it to life?
One might imagine that developing a personal yoga practice requires sequencing and anatomical expertise and a rich vocabulary of how, why, and where to use yoga props. Luckily that isn’t the case. Uncovering your own yoga practice doesn’t require you to teach yourself a full-scale class in the privacy of your living room. Nor does it mean that you can’t continue going to public classes. The first step to advancing the practice and making it your own is learning to listen deeply within yourself and notice what about what you do on the mat is helping you thrive in body, mind, spirit, and the day-to-day unfolding of life.
Do What Feels Good
For many of us, the habit of living an embodied life – where we’re truly in tune with our bodies – is not yet a formed one. It often takes time to rediscover a relationship with our physical self and one of the best ways to do that is through yoga. Nearly everyone who considers themselves hooked on the magic of yoga has reveled in a wondrous ‘A ha!’ moment where they feel their way into a space in the body that may have been numb, achy, or disconnected for years. When it all of a sudden comes alive, and the student realizes they can access it, he or she feels instantly empowered and more deeply body aware.
These moments are amazing gifts and we don’t have to treat them as one-time miracles. These are the moments to learn from. If a vigorous flow or a deep stretch or a quiet sit unhinges something boundless in you, watch for it. Repeat it. Try it at home. Ask questions about it. Find more classes that lead you in that direction of self-discovery. Start there. Follow what happens next. That is the path.
One of the many discoveries I have made about myself in yoga is that I always thought I most enjoyed rigorous asana (because I have long carried a familiarity with hard work) but in fact I have learned that the most meaningful and necessary practice for me is seated meditation. I didn’t know this about myself for years for two reasons: (1) meditation wasn’t something I had much exposure to, (2) I was so deeply invested in messages to myself about what yoga should look like, what I should do, that I couldn’t hear what my body and spirit were actually asking for.
Very often, the should messages we tell ourselves are simply habituated noise. There are so many of them in our busy, full lives that – when we’re not careful – they can drown out the quieter inner voice that really knows what we need. We must learn to listen to that voice, and sit still long enough to hear it. When we push our noisy clouds away so as to see the color, tone, and pattern of our internal sky, we grow. Yoga teaches us to respond to that. It is out of that that we build a practice all our own.
You might also like these yoga practice related posts:
- Restorative Yoga: What it is and Why You Need it
- Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Yoga?
- Starting a Home Yoga Practice
Kate Tripp is a yoga teacher, writer, mother, and co-founder of Luma Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio for adults and children in Santa Cruz, CA. She shares her wisdom and experience on the Three Minute Egg blog with weekly, inspirational, yoga-related blog posts. Read Kate's full bio here.