I believe the most beneficial yoga practice is unique to you, when you are tuned into how your body feels and what it needs most.
What does it mean to have a unique yoga practice? To move in a way that is in tune with your body and aligned with your needs.
How can I make my practice unique to me?
Make time when you get onto your mat to notice how you are feeling and which areas of your body are calling out for attention. These may be physical, emotional or both.
Your intuition will usually guide you immediately to these areas. Pay attention and try to resist the urge to overthink.
I often lie down on the floor as soon as I wake up and move into gentle stretches, maybe exploring an area a little further with tapping, DIY massag or rolling on a spiky ball. Sometimes it turns into a more dynamic practice but often I literally just roll around on the floor. Wow-factor yoga it is not!
Once I understand how I am feeling, I can move with intention and have a more embodied practice.
Is your practice working for you?
This doesn’t mean only doing poses you find easy.
As an example, a person who is very flexible naturally may benefit from doing strength based poses but sticks to a body opening practice which he/she finds easier. Or someone with tight shoulders may practice a lot of strength based poses to avoid spending time on more challenging poses of release. I hold my hand up there! A balanced practice would contain a bit of both.
Take a moment and consider your own practice? Which poses do you avoid and why?
Our inner critic
As students, we generally follow the lead of the teacher and, sometimes, this means that we move into positions that don’t feel right for our body. Perhaps we know this but we don’t want to make a fuss or be the odd one out.
Or we are brainwashed by the myths of what it means to be ‘good’ at yoga. The little voice in our head tells us “if I can’t do Wheel pose or Headstand or complicated arm balances then I am not good enough.”
A teacher can only offer guidance. We must be responsible for our own bodies and this is key to having a unique practice.
It has taken me a long time to embrace my own unique yoga practice. I no longer practice Wheel as it is too intense for my lower back although I do other more gentle front body lengthening poses like Bridge and Fish pose. It really isn’t a cop out to do a variation to avoid injury, it’s just the ego that is taking a hit!
It is really hard when you are in a room full of people to do your own thing, which is one major advantage of online classes. You can suit yourself and no-one will notice.
And in my classes, you are all invited and actively encouraged to seek out your own variations and be your unique self!