Yoga is for everybody. That said, not everything yoga is for everybody. Have you seen some of the crazy things yogis do on instagram ? We are all so unique, with differences including the proportions of our bodies, our emotional experiences, our level of injury/health, and why we practice. It’s easy to see that a one size fits all approach may not be the best way to practice.
Thankfully there are lots of ways to practice and make the practice your own. From the facet of yoga (breathwork, meditation, poses, etc.) to the endless number of styles, you can start by selecting the path that works best for you. After that there are other things you can do to further personalize. Here are just a few suggestions:
Intention: One way to look at intention is to think of it as a rechargeable battery. Your thoughts and focus help to fuel and motivate your practice. In return, throughout your practice, energy is created that boosts your thoughts and focus. When you drop in, turn inward and select a sentiment or energy worthy of your focus. Selecting an intention that is unique to your needs helps to define your practice and create a sanctuary, a special vessel just for you. An established intention can help inform your decisions during practice including intensity, breathwork, and variations you choose to employ.
Vinyasa/Transitions: In a vinyasa or flow class, there is traditionally a transition sequence inserted between series. For example, a portion of the traditional sun salutation (caturanga, urdhva mukha svanasana, adho mukha svanasana, or push-up, up dog, down dog) is frequently used in between sides or before the start of a new series of poses. There is no law that says you must used a traditional “vinyasa”. If you need a little grounding, step to the top of the mat and stand in mountain to reset. If you need a little hip opening, squat down and swivel. If you need some stabilizing core work, hold plank. Customizing the transition allows you to be mindful of your needs and can vary throughout the practice.
Props: Based on personal anatomy, past or current injury, intention, and other factors, using props can help to create poses that are the perfect fit for our bodies. While we may aspire to achieve every pose pictured in “Light On Yoga”, the truth is, very few of us ever will. So, we have to create expressions of the poses and energies that are best for our bodies. Use props to mirror the shape and the actions of the poses. If it’s challenge or intensity you’re looking for, props can help facilitate that too.
Ask Your Teacher: An experienced teacher can be a great resource to help you with these and other facets of personalization. There are a lot of instructors our there, so be sure to find one who is willing to work with you and offer suggestions to optimize your practice. Share your feelings, challenges, and goals, and your instructor can guide you on your journey. If you need extensive assistance or want a longer consultation, be sure to schedule a one-on-one session, so you can get the attention you deserve.
You are your best teacher and advocate. Celebrate your uniqueness and create a customized practice. This is how we can really make yoga for everybody.