To me, self practice is pure luxury. It is the time when I know I have enough time and space to simply be on the mat, treating myself, doing exactly what I want to do. I make sure I have all the props I could need around me, check that my dog has been out, and maybe I put some music on. I tell whoever’s home that I can be disturbed but prefer not to, ensure that the room is warm enough, and then I am ready.
In order to properly “arrive” on the mat, I always start with the breathing space meditation (see blogpost of October 12). It just grounds me and sets me up for being present and focused. I might have a plan for postures I would like to practice, but I also open to see what my body wants to do. Sometimes I find I am moving through a series of postures and it just feels natural for my body to add a posture I hadn’t planned for at the start. I love when that happens! It is fun to open to whatever comes up, to be curious about what feels right in that specific moment. As I am teaching yoga, I often find myself thinking about how I could explain a posture, or imagining what I would say. At that moment though, thinking, i.e. the mind, has probably taken over, and when I realise that it has happened I bring my awareness back to the body and breath as best I can – I’d rather find myself in the practice, back into Being mode!
Self practice was new to me until a few years ago. As I started my yoga teacher training, I had never done any self practice, and I felt behind in experience compared to the other students. However, that did not matter! You are where you are, and when the time is right, that’s when things happen. I guess I had to wait till my teacher training before I was ready! The best experience during my first self practice was when I discovered that my body felt like doing something else than what I had written on my carefully prepared plan the night before. So I went off-plan (so daring…) – it did make me feel brave 😆 Unexpected things come up as you practice.
However, I must admit I love going to a yoga class and being guided. No responsibility for the sequence of postures, time has been set aside for the class, I just need to show up. Have you ever experienced being in a class of a certain length of time, and when the class is over it feels like you have just been there for 20-30 minutes? How wonderful is that?! What has happened is that you have been in the present moment throughout, focused on your practice, breathing.
Enjoy the yoga classes you are going to, and if you are curious about how if feels to do self practice, you could always add that to the classes you are attending. Good luck!
Picture from Yoga Academy Teacher Training