This last year I started to look at, and teach, yoga in a different way.
I was always the “power” teacher, doing sun salutation after sun salutation, working on strength along with balance and flexibility. My goal though, revolved around being strong and powerful. This is a good goal in some ways, but not the ultimate goal of yoga for many, not a realistic goal for some.
Many just need the peace and calm of a yoga practice. We need to find quiet in our minds and bodies after a stressful day. We need to find peace in our soul after a loss or stressful experience. We need to have the space to develop our own personal way to deal with life and the challenges it throws at us.
Each of us needs to find the practice that works for us as individuals. Yesterday we were doing an online class during a teacher training session. I told my student who was working with me to really listen to her own body. If the vinyasa sequence was not serving her well, skip it. Hang out in a downward dog, slide into a gentle child’s pose. Find the space in your own body that is what you personally need today.
I work with others, who due to physical limitations, must do the physical practice of yoga seated. I have also worked with some, who are unable, due to trauma or anxiety, to do a silent relaxation sequence. It is too much for them and that is ok.
A yoga practice can be reading a really good book, it can be simply closing your eyes, and doing a few stretches of the neck, it can be a breath practice that calms you. Your yoga practice can be whatever it is that you need that day, and it can vary from day to day!
I still practice a vinyasa flow almost daily (sun salutations with a variety of standing poses thrown in). I still enjoy the challenge of that type of a practice for my body. Some days my body tells me “no”, that is not what you need today, and I slow down, speed up, lengthen or shorten the physical practice.
I have finally, after 13 years of practice and teaching, figured out how to really LISTEN when I come to the mat. Sometimes that inner voice tells me to practice a pose that I really don’t WANT to do, but I know my body needs that day. Lately, that inner voice has me practicing lots of hip openers. Hip openers bring me to tears most days. Tears that I need to let go somewhere, and on the mat, by myself seems to be the logical place.
I have added some other aspects to my daily practice as well, practices that are currently nourishing my soul through some very difficult times.
I do what I like to call a “writing meditation” following my physical practice. I set the timer on my phone for 10 minutes. For these 10 minutes, I free write, just writing whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it is jibberish, when I can’t think of anything important to write. Sometimes it is a rant about something and others it is a thoughtful essay on how I am feeling that day. Every day that I commit to this process though, I come out of it feeling refreshed and calm. I follow the writing meditation with at least 10 minutes of seated, silent meditation. The writing process first seems to make the seated process so much easier and more productive.
So I guess the message of this is to find a practice. Whether it is physical or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can seek out a way that works for you, within your own mind and body, that helps you to find calm and center.
If you would like more information on classes, workshops, retreat opportunities or trainings, please contact me atJennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org . I would love to help you find your “yoga”.