I always encourage my students to practice on their own -- now that we are "separated out of solidarity," I'm here to share the first in a series of guidelines and recommendations for home practice, to be continued ...
Set aside some time and space. It doesn't have to be a lot of time or space -- every bit counts. When I had very little space, I would roll my mat out alongside my bed and practice for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to an hour or two. The biggest obstacle for me was to just start -- but usually, once I had taken my first few breaths in child's pose, I would be grateful to be practicing.
Mute the phone. Close the door. Add ambience, ritual, anything that helps the mind settle into how fortunate it is to have the will, time, and space to practice -- light a candle, play music, read a poem.
If practicing on your own is something you have never tried, you might feel self conscious, distracted, and frustrated at first. You might find yourself running through a bunch of "shoulds," put unnecessary pressure on yourself to remember poses, to work hard, or to be still. Just observe, without judgment, without attachment. Let the breath anchor your awareness in what is present, and how things are shifting.
Start where you are, with what you know, and remember that what you know -- or the feeling of presence in your breath and body. Acquired knowledge, like techniques, poses, transitions, and sequences are mere tools to access that feeling, and the guidance therein comes first and foremost from your experience.
The essential practice is to rest awareness on the feeling of the breath moving freely throughout the structure of the body. See how interested you can get. It takes constant inquiry, receptivity, and creativity to make your practice yours, yet there is ultimately nothing to "do" -- rather, we undo anything that disrupts our natural intelligence, freedom, and peace. That requires immense dedication, patience, and trust.
Make the process as pleasant for yourself as possible! You might plan a simple sequence that you enjoy, and allow room for creativity and improvisation as you fine tune your awareness to deepen and expand, to respond to what you find yourself "knowing." Always start and end at rest. Stay present and receptive. Eventually, sequences can be improvised on the "knowing" awareness of breath, body, and mind, as one.
BALANCE & EVOLUTION
Yoga is a process of learning ourselves. Whatever comes up is real and valid, and the reflection of our practice allows us to choose how to respond to what is present in a way that brings balance and clarity, even if what is clear is that we are not clear, and not balanced. It can be easy enough -- for example, if I'm trying to be still, but find myself restless, I practice more movement. If moving proves tiring, I practice stillness. Eventually, weave both movement and stillness together in their own balance -- "moving into stillness." Our sense of stillness becomes dynamic, and constantly evolving.
USEFUL & ENJOYABLE
Remember to make practice useful AND enjoyable. When I miss my practice, I miss it! When I miss my classes, I miss my students. To come together in community is the gift of teaching for me -- for now, we can stay connected virtually. I'll be offering a gentle and restorative practice (and more guidelines for home practice!) via livestream with Usha Veda Yoga. Sign up with MindBody.