For yogis of any level, self-practice is important. It gives you the time to be with yourself, nurtures your body, mind, and spirit, and to grow in the ways that you need. For many people who don’t have easy access to classes or a guru also it is the most sustainable way to keep up a yoga practice. But many things can get in the way of self-practice: busy lives, busy minds… and it can be easy to let these things mess up the yoga flow. Here are some tips I put together from my own experience that made keeping a consistent self-practice much easier.
- Timing and consistency
Whether you practice for half an hour once a day or two hours twice a day, pick a time that works for you, when you more or less have an empty stomach, and practice that same time every day. When you practice at the same time very day you will start to crave the practice and it becomes much easier. When you have a designated time to practice it is much harder to argue with yourself and make excuses because that is your time for yoga and nothing else.
- Make it fun
Self-practice is a unique time because you can do whatever you want. You can work on certain poses that you are really trying to get, or get that deep stretch you' ‘ve been needing. When I self-practice I enter into it with the mindset that I am giving a gift to myself. I take that time to give myself what I need and pay attention to my body. I ask my body what it needs and allow that to guide my practice. At first, I was surprised to find that way to be even more productive and dynamic than the approach of being disciplined.
- Work on your favorite pose
Yes- we should all work on strengthening our weaknesses. But we should also work on what we are already good at! Include your favorite pose in your practice every single time. See how long you can hold it, push yourself to become even better at that pose. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, and there may be one or two poses that you can become perfect at. Mastering one or two poses will have a great impact on your entire practice. Some yogis believe if you have two poses perfect, then you will have all the poses perfect.
- Recognize excuses but don't listen to them
All of us have excuses going through our heads, reasons why we can just do it tomorrow, just not now… but all they are is thoughts. When you can start noticing them playing in your head, you can just allow them to be and not listen to them. There is no shame, we all have them, but the more you practice the quieter they become.
- Have a ritual
Weather your ritual includes silence and prayer or blasting your favorite music, create a ritual for yourself that feels good and sets the space for your practice. It's your me-time – make it special, so that you look forward to it and it's about more than just practicing the asanas. Make it delicious and sacred.
Yoga is about creating unity with the mind body and spirit and creating peace for yourself.