yoga under sakura (Photo credit: soulfish)
There’s yoga for your back , for your core, for your mind and for your Zen.
How about yoga for… you? Right now?
Sure you might have tight shoulders, hips, aching back or just want a good twist. But I’ll bet dollars to Down Dogs that once you do your first shoulder roll or forward wall hang, Sun Salutation or Fierce Pose, your body will know where it wants to go next, even without anyone telling your brain where to take it next.
Don’t get me wrong – teachers and classes are enlightening, edifying, fun, soul soothing and yummy. (I hope so, I am one 🙂 However, I think we have this practice thing all twisted up: the core of practice shouldn’t be with a teacher in a studio or even all planned out in advance. Just like piano, t’ai ch’i and meditation, you get the most out of the practice you undertake yourself. You. Getting up, rolling out the mat and having a little audience with the teacher inside.
Your bodily sensation, together with your breath and your longing are the words of your inner teacher. Follow what you feel, watch the breath, take care of your breath and don’t follow mere thought or planning or even “what feels good” (though there will be some of that, don’t you fret!) Follow your longing.
You’ll have to get quiet to feel and to hear it. It might tell you to do fluffy propped restorative poses when you’d planned for a strenuous Vinyasa sesh, or the other way around. Follow it. Continually checking in: what next?
You can follow your bodily sensation to some extent in the context of a class – make modifications for your tight this or overly flexible that. But you can’t necessarily bust out your Hanumanasana in the midst of Surya Namaskar unless you want some crazyeyeasana.
That’s all as it should be. Classes are for exploring an idea and a n energy with a group, which requires a modicum of discipline and and conformity. But your personal practice, the one in your space, led by your body, this is where you get to explore long and short holds, different combos, allow sensation to guide the next move and the breath to seduce the mind into shutting up on its own accord.
Keep going to classes, workshops, online offerings, Zendos, Salutathons. They rock. They’re fun. They feed your soul. Just don’t subject your precious heart to a mono-diet of group classes or teacher led asana. Roll out your mat. Have a home-grown appetizer, a self-made snack or a do-it-yourself dessert. You deserve it.