Developing a personal practice is one of the most difficult, sincere and rewarding things one can do in a life.
And while I’m applying this concept to a yoga practice, it holds true for all. A spiritual practice. A martial arts practice. A creative practice. Making it your own, doing it with dedication and devotion, learning and growing and stumbling and persisting. It’s all hard.
So, good on you for wanting to try to do it with your yoga practice – a self-awakening and self-realization practice.
Throughout the pandemic I’ve been sharing a daily livestream class, “Home Yoga Practice LIVE” on YouTube and Facebook, aimed at sharing and helping folks develop a personal yoga practice.
We’ve explored different philosophical aspects, energetic aspects and practical aspects and obstacles to rolling out the mat and moving, or sitting still.
Today we took things to another step, offering a template for developing a plan for a period of time, say a week.
Here are those steps. Please join us in this week’s exploration/experiment.
- What are you practicing? What do you want to put into practice this week? A limb of yoga? An energetic awareness? An aspect of sutra? A type of pose?
- Time. Be honest about the amount of time you have to commit daily and schedule it. Put it in your calendar. Have an accountability buddy who either practices with you or checks in. It can be 10 minutes or 2 hours. That’s up to you. Make it achievable, not astronomical. And commit for the duration of this practice. A week? Two weeks?
- Observe. I recommend a journal. I know the suggestion can be one with a charge for some. But whatever is a good way for you – a voice journal or a written one, write down what you notice about your practice. Were you distracted? Did you notice repetitive thoughts or worries? What felt good? What surprised you? What thought or belief revealed itself to be true? And even better, what showed itself to NOT be true?
- Guidance. We all need a teacher. Who is your teacher? Where do you receive your guidance along this path? How did you choose them? What were the qualities you admired or wanted to emulate? I really cannot stress enough having a good teacher, you respect and have a rapport with and who knows YOU. And stick with that person. Don’t “guru hop.” Even if you stick with it for 6 months or a year, at least you know you spent some time evaluating the guidance and your progress on your path. This relationship is best in person. But maybe there’s someone you admire via YouTube or in books. Fine. Start where you can start and at the same time seek a teacher. Your teacher will find you and you will find them. The guidance you receive in your practice keeps you on track. The teacher can offer you specific postures, or readings or meditations for you to add to your practice or delete.
This is not meant to be a complete list of what comprises a practice. Just a beginning. We all need to start somewhere, and if we waited to build the exhaustive list, often, we don’t begin to do the thing at all.
I call myself out on this one. I recently started doing more visual art. I’ve had a few days, not consecutive, of some decent commitment to just doing something, even if it’s a doodle. Two days ago I had set aside time to do some art (I find it helps stimulate my writing and my meditations). I wound up at a Michael’s to get a few paint brushes. I ended up buying more paints, a pencil case, more graphite pencils… you get it, right? I substituted doing the actual art in favor of getting art STUFF.
I laughed at myself later that night, exhausted from a whole list of other errands and things I had let derail me. I justified it all because they were not frivolous, they were kind of necessary. But in reality, at home, I knew the actual doing of the art and the writing and the meditation got waylayed in favor of the shiny baubles.
So, if you want to start a personal practice, start.
I hope this little template helps.
Now… What next?
We are doing this for a week on our Home Yoga Practice LIVE webcast (10:30 a.m. EST, Tues-Friday) on YouTube and Facebook. Set your plan, and maybe join us this week . I am recommending you still set aside your actual alone time to do your practice, but if you want to join us and share how it’s going or ask questions, please do. AND, if you can’t find time on your own, at least you’re getting some done with us for that hour.
We will talk about extending that practice after the first seven days and building on it.