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Personal Practice Police

yoga-policeJust for the record there are no police for personal practice. If you are venturing into a home or personal practice, the yoga versions of Joan and Melissa Rivers will not pop into your living room to issue citations.

I’ve had several conversations recently with yogis who were daunted by starting or committing to a personal practice. They were under the impression that there were specific definitions and requirements for it to be an “official” or qualified personal practice. Who said it had to be a complete 60-90 yoga asana “class” at home by yourself? First, yoga asana is only part of yoga, so physical movement doesn’t even have to be included to count! Secondly, it’s a PERSONAL practice, so YOU get to define what that means and how you do it.

Why are we imitated by these perceived authorities of yoga? I’m here to lead the charge of reclaiming our yoga practice and making it personal again. Let not the police nor anyone else define what that practice should entail.

As the self-appointed anti-police, I hereby give you the authority to define home or personal practice how you see fit. Things you think you might need, but actually don’t include; the perfect space, absolute silence, no interruptions, a full hour or more, the right clothes or the perfect mat. Really, all you need is your body, your breath and your mind.

Need help breaking from what you think the practice should look like? Here are a few suggestions. (Please note, these are just ideas, if you have a better one, go for it!)

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On the patio or in the yard are two of my favorite spots to practice asana at home.

Asana (Poses)

  • While the shower is warming up or while you’re waiting for the dog to come in from her morning romp in the yard, take an easy seat and find a few neck rolls and or kneel for a few cat/cows and a child’s twist.

  • At your desk, take a little chair twist and then clasp your hands behind your back and open your heart (really invigorating for that early afternoon lull).

  • Do 5-10 mindful sun salutations anywhere you can fit; in your living room, kitchen, bathroom or hallway.

  • Spend 10 minutes working on a “goal” pose. Work a while in headstand prep, walk down the wall into a back bend or hang out in turtle pose.

  • At the end of the day, take a few reclined pigeon poses and gentle twists in your bed to settle in for the night.

Pranayama (Breath)

  • At a red stop light or during a tv commercial, take a 3 stage inhale (inhale, pause, inhale, pause, inhale pause, and then exhale completely through the nose).

  • As needed, take a long, full inhale and exhale completely out the mouth like you are blowing out a candle.

  • Before bed, use the thumbs to close the ears and the fingers to cover the eyes, take a full inhale and then hum quietly on the exhale. Do this for 2-3 minutes or until you feel calm and relaxed.

Dharana (concentration/meditation)

  • Hit the snooze button and consider your mantra for the day, spend a few minutes focusing on that mantra (repeating it to yourself or aloud).

  • Download a yoga nidra recording (guided yogic sleep), lie down, make yourself comfortable and follow-along.

  • Choose a favorite passage from sacred text or poetry, spend 5 minutes with it. Read, re-read, then just sit with it and see what thoughts surface.

  • At dinner, put your phone down and really focus on the person you are with. Listen to them, engage in conversation and enjoy them as your single point of focus.

There are lots of things you can do to develop a personal or home practice. The most important thing is to make it yours. If it evolves to 90 minutes of asana and 30 minutes of meditation, great, gold star for you. If it evolves to something else that helps you feel present in your body and your life, even better, two gold stars for you.

Enjoy the Journey!

Suzanne

(This blog was originally posted on lotushouseofyoga.wordpress.com.)

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