The Importance of Personal Yoga Practice.
In the Western world most yoga students and yoga teachers practice in the yoga studios. Very few people, actually I know 3, maintain their own yoga practice at home.
Taking yoga classes at a yoga studio or online is similar to going to a restaurant or ordering a take out. You outsource planning, making, setting up, and cleaning up. You have less control of what’s to come, less responsibility, and often times less benefits.
Outsourcing cooking and creating a yoga practice have it’s own pluses and minuses.
You might think, who wouldn’t like to eat at a restaurant all the time? And why, would I want to create my own yoga class?
Let’s look at eating and doing yoga one at a time:
Until recently, I used to think that living a city so overflowing with healthy restaurants and amazing yoga studios, it is a right thing to eat out or order in. Well, now I cook 90% of my meals.
Here is why:
- I like to have control of what I put into my body
- My needs change day-to-day and my body tells me what it wants. Usually restaurants are not flexible enough to make exactly what I need
- I like the control over the functionality of spices that go into my food to boost the balancing and nourishing effect of my meals
- You can truly make food your medicine if you listen to your body and its feedback
Yoga is the same way.
There are many great yoga teachers out there but none of them will know better than you what you need. The best yoga teacher should be able to teach you how to listen to your body, to its energy (prana) and how to move to support it. He gives you tools to create your own practice.
As Dr Frawley says: ‘Prana is the original teacher of yoga postures, not mere human instruction. The true teacher of asana does so through awakening the prana of the student, not simply by teaching how to put the body into different poses.‘ This is what I was striving to do with my students. To give them tools to listen to their own body and its needs.
Similar to learning how to cook, learning how to create your own yoga practice is all about starting and experimenting. In the beginning a teacher is necessary to guide you in the basics of alignment, sequencing, and structure of a yoga practice. Once you have the basics down, it is u to you to make it your own. In the beginning you might look for recipes or ‘prepared sequences’ but later you just know what to do.
In yoga it is more important how you do things, not what you do. So don’t be afraid to start with a few simple asanas. As long as you keep all your attention on your breath and in your body, you are doing it right. There should be no pain or discomfort. You should always be able to breathe fully. Once you push past the comfort zone, your breath will change: it will become more shallow and faster. This is your sign to move back.
You have a full control of how long to stay in a pose (until the breath changes), and which asanas to do (based on what your body’s needs are).
A sign that you are building your practice correctly is when it leaves you feeling light, energized, clear, and inspired. It is common to feel optimistic and to have lots of new ideas.
This is a feeling that you should get from a perfectly balanced meal, too (hard to come by at a restaurant).
You can still do yoga classes for inspiration, to get new ideas, and to check in on your alignment but the most transformational and effective practice is self-practice.
To circle it back to eating. Similarly to a yoga teacher, a good health coach shouldn’t be telling you what to eat, they should teach you mindfulness and body awareness so you can determine on your own what you need. This is the most powerful tool that can help you understand what your body likes and dislikes. Body doesn’t lie. We just don’t always listen.
People resist ‘must do’ or ‘must eat’ lists of what and when to eat. The fastest way for a long-term change is through slowing down and learning to listen. The change shouldn’t be forced, it should come naturally from within.
After mindful eating workshop and food combining lecture, few of the women participating in 40 days to Bliss noticed themselves that they got bloated after having fruit post meals. Others noticed tummy troubles from mixing dairy and fruit. I didn’t tell them that they must stop eating those combinations but I encouraged them to observe their bodies reaction in certain situations. Once they noticed it, there was no way to deny it. Personal experience is the strongest one. We learn from our lessons better than from others’. Wellness coach can just help guide you in what to pay attention to and how.
In yoga you will learn what you need to create a desired state of being through observation and mindfulness, as well. It will make you free because you won’t be tied to a certain teacher or yoga studio anymore. Your practice will always be available to you. It will become a useful tool always at your disposal not a desired object that requires extra time on the schedule, money, and effort.
What do you think about it? What would it take for you to start practicing on your own?
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