As a yoga student, there often comes a time when (having practiced in lots of studio classes) you become curious about developing your own home practice.
You roll out your mat, come into Child’s Pose, and then you….freeze.
It’s easy, when you’re being led through a practice to feel confident about what’s coming next. Then you get home and all that knowledge vanishes into thin air.
If you’re interested in making the transition from studio practice to home practice, but you notice yourself feeling stuck, here are some simple guidelines to point you in the right direction:
#1 What is the aim of your practice?
Consider which of the following best describes you right now:
I have trouble letting go: This can include the elimination of waste from the body. It can also include letting go of old patterns, stories, emotions and belief systems.
If this is you, consider a practice that focuses on FORWARD FOLDS.
I have trouble digesting: This can include the digestion of food. It can also include the digestion of life experiences (where you keep making the same mistakes over and again).
If this is you, consider a practice that focuses on TWISTS.
I have trouble receiving: This can include trouble inhaling. It can also include difficulty receiving love and support, or even difficulty taking in new information.
If this is you, consider a practice that focuses on BACK BENDS.
I have trouble integrating different aspects of my life or trouble expanding out into the world: This can include expanding the reaches of your personality (if you’re shy). It could also include expanding into a new field at work, or getting the different parts of your life to flow together more seamlessly.
If this is you, consider a practice that focuses on LATERAL POSES.
It’s not that poses from these pose categories contain magical properties. It’s that each influences the movement of energy in the body in different ways, and these movements of energy are associated with the physical, mental and emotional functions described above.
#2 Order poses from ‘most gentle’ to ‘most deep’.
Now that you know which pose category to focus on, pick a range of poses from that category.
Let’s use forward folds as an example.
Here are six forward folds:
- Child’s Pose
- Downward Facing Dog
- Pyramid Pose
- Wide-legged Standing Forward Fold
- Baddha Konasana
Notice how I’ve ordered them from ‘most gentle’ (Child’s Pose) to ‘most deep’ (Paschimottonasana). Doing them in that order will protect the body, ensuring that each pose prepares you safely for the next.
Now, if you do only the poses listed above, your body might feel uncomfortable so use that list as a basic framework and then listen to your body. If your body asks for a twist in between poses, then twist! If your body asks for a gentle backbend after a few forward folds, do it!
Keep in mind that you want to start with standing poses and finish with seated ones.
#3 Always leave time for silence at the end.
After you’ve moved through your sequence (the one I’ve described above will take 20 mins or so), make sure you leave time for stillness and silence.
Begin with Savasana. This will allow your body-mind to integrate the practice you’ve just done.
Then, come to a seated position and carve out some time for meditation. Perhaps it’s just a couple of minutes, perhaps it’s longer (if you have an established meditation practice). Whatever the length of time, don’t skip it!
Sometimes practices like this can feel boring. Sometimes they feel hard. Over time, though, what they do is give you insight into the nature of your mind. What could be more valuable than that?
What I’ve described above is a basic framework for establishing a home practice. If you’re feeling called to explore this in more detail, you might be interested in my sequencing course. You can discover more via the link below:
YOGA & YOU: The Art and Science of Intelligent Sequencing
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