My very first taste of yoga, was love at first experience. I was in a North Shore clinic in Sydney as an inpatient; a teen coming to terms with an all-consuming and enduring eating disorder. Yoga featured daily in our rehabilitation program.
I was all but ready for healing, but hesitant about letting go of the obscure control I had in relation to this dis-ease in my body and mind.
Hello Yoga! Over the next decade or so this art of breath, movement and mind kept popping up in my life, allowing me to experience a glimmer of all it had on offer – in fits and spurts.
Initially, the asana or postures were high priority (for probably all the wrong reasons…obsessive body image) until I began exploring further the effects that meditation and stillness were starting to impart in my day to day life. The periods of obsessiveness and control over body image became further and further apart; until one day (much later) they were no longer there.
I experienced yoga in sporadic class sessions, personal development environments and yoga publications, which I was showing a growing interest in collecting (especially when a promotional dvd presented itself on the Yoga Journal cover, monthly).
Eventually, this led to my very first yoga book purchase (Yoga The Iyengar Way by Mira and Shyam Mehta) and the endeavour into creating my own (wavering) home practice.
When I say ‘wavering’; it took many goes and lots of patience and persistence to really turn up (in those days I had no mat) anywhere that resembled a yoga space on a regular(ish) basis.
As we all know from experience, excuses are easy and with enough inner babble we have convinced ourselves that the choice not to show up is justifiably AOK.
So, my personal recipe for a home practice, with some regularity and tweaking consisted of:
Have a goal in Mind
Without a push and a shove and a plan for what you want to get out of this; the inner babble has much more of a chance in succeeding in getting you out of it. Turn up, show up and remember whether the goal is on a physical, mental or spiritual level…that is exactly why you are there.
This ties in with the above; nevertheless is a reminder that we can listen to all the excuses under the sun and acknowledge them (and then let them go). Making a start, regardless of how you feel on the day, is the way forward to cutting through and breaking this cycle.
Be Disciplined; Yet Flexible
Set your days and make them realistic because remember we want to set up for success. I think I set two afternoons aside to begin and anything else was a bonus. If I struggled to get there on a set day, I would make it up elsewhere (or not) and be OK with that. Don’t be so hard on yourself that the practice begins to feel like a chore (this is definitely NOT the purpose).
Find Some Good Resources
The market is now absolutely saturated with them – books, dvds (old school), you tube, phone apps, our friend ‘Google’ (new school). Find a style, teacher, level that resonates with you personally. Look for the ‘Goldilocks theory’ – not too heavy, not too light – just right (FOR YOU). I became so absorbed in reading as much as I could about all facets of Yoga and think this is where my passion for yoga alignment has stemmed from. Pawing over photos, dreaming of the strength and flexibility I might one day aspire to. Immerse your mind as much as your body.
Know Your Limitations (Keep It Real)
It’s all well and good for you to want to tie yourself in knots and aspire to the Greatness of some of Mr Iyengar’s amazing body feats; but, if it comes at a cost and renders you out of action for the next couple of weeks due to a sustained injury then your purpose and best intentions are defeated. Feel what feels right in your own body and work on developing that.
Patience and Persistence (results with follow)
I remember my very first downward dog – the pose looks relatively easy, right? It was one of the most uncomfortable positions for me in many aspects. My arms tremored under my own body weight, my hamstrings screamed out in pain and my mind could not get past any of this enough for me to enjoy one moment of its otherwise plethora of benefits. This was a pose that followed me, like the loyalty of a dog, regularly in my home practice.
Set a realistic time frame for your practice and to reach the goals that you set (where this all began), I personally feel its far more beneficial to get to your mat or (matless) yoga space more regularly through the week and keep the practices shorter. Play around, it’s supposed to be fun too.
Now, none of this is earth-shatteringly new information, this I am sure. But, these are components that have certainly shaped my own regular home practice.
I cannot stress enough from my own experience though that a class environment, with an experienced teacher that will nurture your progress is a must and really will complement and complete your home practice and ALSO offer you so much more to work with and get confident about.
Feel free to share with me your own personal recipes towards success in a home practice AND remember its called a yoga practice because it takes practice! Or pick my brain for a practice that might suit your own needs, time and circumstances.