Building a Personal Practice
One of the biggest hurdles we all face in our journey is the discipline to a) create a personal practice and b) to stick with it. History speaks for itself with manifold examples of individuals who have transformed themselves through personal practice.
Personal practices are as unique as the individuals who are doing them; there is no one-size-fits-all. This is a problem in our modern approach to yoga and to life. We want what is popular. But that may not actually serve our higher purpose.
Take group yoga classes for example. If there are thirty people in the room, all of whom have their own unique issues, needs, and imbalances, but they are all doing the same class. For some it may be just what they perceived they needed, for others it may be what they actually needed, and yet for others it will be yet another source of imbalance.
In no way am I suggesting that we not attend group classes. We can ideally learn from yoga instructors about alignment, safety, and how to do various poses. If we happen upon a teacher who has more depth in the yoga tradition we will begin to better understand other aspects of yoga; these are what help us build personal practice.
Seeking the guidance and input of a yoga teacher regarding your personal practice is ideal. We don't want to find ourselves doing practice that perpetuates imbalance - many that we may fail to see ourselves.
If a yoga instructor says something like "do what feels right", don't heed that advice. A yoga teacher will be able to give you a specific practice that meets your needs - physically, mentally and spiritually. This practice need not be lengthy, but it must be effective. Your challenge will be to do it, and do it daily.
A good practice will have some poses (asana), some rest (savasana or yoga nidra), breath work (pranayama), and meditation. All of this can be done in 20-30 minutes. I know, I know, you are asking where am I going going find an additional 20-30 minutes in my day. My answer is you get out of bed earlier and make it happen. Period.
It will take you about 30 days to make this new daily practice (yes that means weekends too) part of your life. You will begin to feel better from day one. The effects of practice are that potent. Your days will be more productive regardless of what you are doing. You will start feeling more centred, have better control of your emotions, you will be less reactive, and more grounded. These are the rewards of practice.
Why wait for happiness?
The yoga tradition gives us so many tools to get there. Be smart about it. Don't get into the trap of seeing yoga as something that you do at a fancy yoga centre. Own your practice. Make it part of your life. Soon you will find yourself not just doing yoga, but living in a state of yoga 24/7. Yes, that will happen! It is the promise of yoga.
If you need something to help you commit I'm going to suggest that you check out the Himalayan Institute's Year Long Group Meditation. This online series of workshops and seminars will assist you in deepening your personal practice while uplifting the collective consciousness (now who doesn't want to do that!!!). The Institute offers a variety of free online tools to assist you in your practice. If you are new to meditation follow these guidelines to learn how.
If you would like some peronal input I welcome your inquiries. My role as a teacher is to share the wisdom of the tradition. Don't be shy about dropping me an email and we'll take it from there.
Good luck with your practice. The rewards will be plenty.
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