Through sustained self practice we develop a healthy body, an open heart, and an awake mind. Our regular practice can become a vehicle for developing insight and it can help bring vitality to all systems of the body. Our regular practice can also show us that we can do things we weren't once able to do. According to many wisdom traditions, including the yogic system of thought and practice, as we strengthen the body and create more clarity and joy in the mind and heart the whole system is infused with divine intelligence and consciousness or prana. Through daily practice we can begin to feel into our rhythms and the rhythms expressed in the natural world. We can aim to balance the two co-essential elements of yin and yang or receptivity and dynamic activity. With mindfulness and vibrant non-aggressive attention we can ask ourselves "what is out of balance right now?" and "how can my yoga practice bring me closer to equilibrium?"
Attending to the different layers of our being; physical, emotional, mental, and energetic, is a holistic process; they are interdependent. As we stimulate the tissues in the body we also encourage suppleness in the mind and these changes actually produce measurable currents in our bioelectromagnetic field.
As the inevitable complexity of life draws us away from our center taking time every day to tune in and take personal time to grow a sense of intimacy with our inner experience keeps us integrated. Following are a few guidelines to establish a regular home practice. Let me know in the comments below what you have found helps to maintain your home practice.
Self Practice Guidelines:
- Designate a special place for practice. If you can, create an alter with a few special objects or readings.
- Create ritual around your practice time. Try to practice every day and at the same time if possible.
- Start by arriving, centering, and grounding. Use meditation, breath, and body awareness to come into the present.
- Check in with your body, heart, and mind. How are you now? Your practice should restore you not drain you. Choose practices that will accomplish this.
- Notice if there is a theme you would like to focus on.
- Set an intention for your practice.
- Warm up if moving into an active practice.
- Balance practices that emphasize strengthening and lengthening.
- Think of lines of energy in poses - where does energy want to travel in each asana?
- Work from the ground up (by starting with alignment in your feet) or from medial to distal parts of the body.
- Connect with your breath and aim to stay present.
- Don't take it so seriously! Yoga is healing and deeply sacred but its also fun!
- Use poses that challenge you and ones that are easier for you. Do ones you like and ones you don’t like.
- Notice where you overcompensate with flexibility or with strength.
- Discover where you habitually hold stress. Relax areas that don’t need to be tense.
- Always avoid all sharp pain.
- Continue to invite inspiration into your practice in the form of talks, and classes you can use at home and attending events.
- Deeply honor the time you have carved out for practice. Treat it as sacred.
- Connect with your teachers at the end of practice and offer gratitude to those who have helped you on your path.
- Always end your physical practice with savasana.
Om Mani Padme Om
May we continue to develop our hearts and minds and may we remember what we seek is already within.