My first 10 years of yoga, I resisted the idea of exploring a self-practice. I liked going to class and having the energy of other people to support me. I felt like the collective effort was meaningful, and was a motivating force that helped push me farther. Also, I enjoyed having a teacher not only to learn from but also to tell me what to do. There was something comforting in the thought that I wasn’t solely responsible for what was happening. Like, I could sit back, be ordered around, and call it a day.
When I became pregnant I was inspired to look into self-practice. I didn’t just want to do restorative pre-natal yoga, but I also didn’t want the pace of a vigorous vinyasa class. So I decided it was time to start delving into yoga on my own. I had the experience of the past decade to guide me, and felt I was ready to take this step. That was 4 years ago, and to this day most of my yoga is self-practice. I still go to class, but I don’t feel the same sense of dependency, and I use it more as a tool for inspiration instead of a crutch to get me moving.
Here are 5 reasons why I think every yogi should incorporate self-practice into their lives.
1) It's An Opportunity To Listen To Your Body In A Profound Way
When in class you have to follow the agenda that the teacher has choreographed. Although there is intentionality in what they are doing, it doesn’t mean the practice was catered for you, your body, and where you are at that day. During a self-practice you have the opportunity to truly [!split!]] listen to your body and what it wants.
2) It's The Best Way To Connect To Your Breath, Pacing, And Internal Rhythms
I don’t know about you, but when I am in class and a teacher says “move to your own breath” it is hard for me not to be influenced by what is going on around me. If someone is moving faster or slower, or the teacher moves on to the next pose, I tend to sacrifice my own timing for the pace of the class. But in my own self-practice I can really move with my own breath. I can take my time, or speed things up, but the rhythm is connected to my internal beat for that day, and I make no compromises because I have only my own heart to listen to.
3) It Helps You Face Your Fears
There are a lot of poses that I am less than fond of - bound side-angle, hanamanuasana [!this!]], pigeon, to name a few. And even though I could always avoid those poses in my self-practice if I wanted, instead I go to them constantly. I may not know much, but I do know that if it challenges me mentally it is probably a good place to go. And through this commitment to face these poses that have brought me anxiety in the past, they have become my friends. I learn from them, and the more I visit them, the kinder they are to me.
4) It Provokes Creativity
Coming up with your own vinyasa flow provokes creativity. You have to think about what move streams into the next, and create a method that is as rational as it is fluid. I enjoy the process, and often surprise myself by what I come up with. I realize the connective tissue between one posture and the next by discovering a variety of paths. I have the opportunity to paint the picture of my practice and color it with the postures of my imagination.
5) It Reminds You Of The Guru Inside
I have learned so much from the teachers in my past, and continue to study with very wise yogis. Yet, at the same time, my self-practice reminds me of the eternal wisdom of my soul. Like everyone, I have a guru inside me, and it is through the silence of my solitary moments that I can listen to what she is saying.