Happy March, yogi friends! Today, I’m going to address a question that I’m sure is being asked by some of you. "What if I’m still just not able to "trust myself" enough to guide myself through my home yoga practice?"
Maybe you’ve read my book and worked your way through all the practices, or you’ve taken one or more of my "Yoga-To-Go" workshops in the past, but you still find yourself lying on your mat wondering what to do next. First and most importantly, don’t beat yourself up over this. It’s just yoga. Put your practice in its proper place. Can you view it as one of many tools you have to feel a little better, a little happier and more peaceful during your day? That might be all you need. Take some pressure off yourself and let’s see if that helps you trust in your ability to self-guide.
Start by re-framing your practice in this way, but then also try the following:
· Go to yoga class. And then, go again and again. Whether you are practicing in a studio or streaming live or recorded classes, take class for a few weeks before you try self-guiding again. Sometimes, you just need a little more experience and possibly a wider range of poses and sequences under your belt. Even if you are a very experienced practitioner, going to yoga class nourishes your personal practice. It gives you things to think about and practice on your own, "priming the pump" for personal practice.
· After taking class, use the notes function on your phone or a notebook to jot down the themes, sequences or poses that interested you. Later, you will be able to center your home practices around these elements.
· When you are ready to try self-guiding again, work with what you know your body always needs in yoga class. For example, I always need a reclined twist somewhere in my practice. I just don’t feel right ending a practice without one. So, if I’m feeling particularly uninspired on my mat, I’ll center my practice around a few variations of reclined twists. Maybe that’s all I do, and that’s completely okay. I leave my mat feeling good because I gave my body what it wanted.
· Are you giving yourself enough time to feel into your body and truly assess what you need? Some days this process takes more than just a couple of breaths or minutes. Give yourself time and I promise that, more often than not, you will be amply rewarded with information to guide your practice.
· On the other hand, don’t overthink it. Once you’ve taken time to feel into your body, if you are still wondering what to do next, just move. It doesn’t really matter what you do. You don't even need to do yoga, as such. Gentle movement and stretching, or anything else that feels good, is enough. The most important element, learning to do what’s exactly right for you in the moment (trusting yourself...), is taken care of. You are little-by-little training yourself to self-guide.
· Limit your time on your mat. Until self-guiding becomes second nature, always leave your mat wanting to do more. Let that feeling inspire you to practice again the next day.
· Yoga Teachers: If you are having trouble establishing a personal yoga practice, don’t post videos or photos of your home practice on social media for a while. Your personal practice is an important inward journey and vital to your authenticity as a teacher. If you are focusing on the outward—how you look, whether the pose is "right" in terms of alignment, etc.—you are just going to delay your progress.
· Finally, if you continue to struggle, feel free to contact me. I’m currently mulling a personal yoga practice mentoring program for yoga teachers and experienced practitioners that would launch in the next couple of months. In the meantime, I’m happy to chat with you and, if needed, offer you additional ideas and support.
I hope you find peace and joy in your practice this month,