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Why Familiarity in Your Yoga Practice Can Feel Surprisingly Fresh

Yoga | Yoga for Beginners

Since moving to the Boston area in the dead of winter amidst a merciless series of snowstorms, I’ve taken a respite from teaching and committed to practicing at a local studio with deep roots, and a simple, straightforward approach to the yoga practice.

An Always Familiar Yoga Practice

Class times are the same. Sequences are the same. Even the teachers are the same—most have taught here for years. And while some yogis crave this sort of environment, I teetered a bit before purchasing the unlimited package. Would I get bored? Stuck? Uninspired? I wasn’t sure.

Throughout my practice, teaching, and life, I’ve always sought variety and creativity in everything I do. Show me a funky variation on Side Plank and I’m all in.

Deep down, though, with all the change swirling around in my life—new town, new job search, new place to enjoy my daily latte—I realized that embarking on a wild yoga goose chase around town offering Hot26, Yoga-lates, or some oddball Crossfit-meets-Yin hybrid would get me nowhere.

I needed a yoga studio and style that promised stability, comfort, and familiarity. The chicken noodle soup variation, if you will. Thankfully, I’ve found it, and am soaking up a host of surprising benefits.

Here’s what practicing the same yoga sequence, at the same yoga studio, with the same yoga teachers, every day for a period of time can feel surprisingly fresh.

1. You have a more solid foundation with which to grow.

Arriving at the studio after a one-mile walk on ice-covered sidewalks in 20-pound Sherpa boots, with tensed up neck muscles, trying to stay warm under my flimsy scarf, has quashed any desire to explore a scissor-split-foot-wrapped-around-my-head variation of Side Crow on my end.

Right now, a simple Chair Prayer Twist will do for me. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s simple. Challenging. Familiar. And a way to feel the earth below my feet. Hallelujah.

Going through the same 90-minute sequence as yesterday, and the day before, under the watchful eye of a masterful teacher leaves me feeling grounded and steady, even with the shaky footing outside.

Of course there is a time and place to try new poses and variations, and I highly encourage it, but right now, for me, I’m growing on a deeper level by keeping it simple and powerful. With the foundation I’m building now, I’ll be that much more excited to bust out that crazy Side Crow come spring.

2. You gain a sense of belonging.

In less than a week, I’ve gone from being the outsider staring stupidly in the middle of the town square, not knowing which direction my iPhone GPS is pointing me toward, to a welcome friend among friends at my new local studio. That’s what a familiar yoga routine will offer a new yogi from out of town.

My same class, same studio, same students, and simple sequence routine has also eliminated any urge to compete—there’s no crazy Side Crows to distract us.

Instead of bouncing around studios overly focused on trying to fit in, I’m meeting new friends and getting more familiar with my new town and growing circle of friends.

3. You build stronger discipline.

Be honest—how many times have you wanted to take an ‘advanced’ variation just to get the hell out of a tortuously long Extended Side Angle? I used to do it all the time, fooling myself into thinking I was working harder.

Without my beloved Bird of Paradise as an option, I’m noticing how much more discipline is required to stay put in the foundational poses. And I like that. I’m also discovering the discipline required to stay present in a practice where I know what pose is coming next.

I’m learning to inquire deeper within each familiar pose to keep it interesting.

If Floor Bow feels more challenging today than yesterday, why is that? Am I breathing deeply enough? Am I pushing and trying to get it over with? Or can I discipline myself to stay present and make adjustments to find the balance between effort and ease?

There’s nothing rote or routine about this way of practicing, even if the poses and sequence feel familiar.

4. You embark on a deeper journey inward.

Instead of scratching my head and looking for a demo on how to get from a Seated Twist to Standing Split to Revolved Half Moon and back again, I can use my own neurological navigator to get me where I need to go—thanks to the familiarity I’ve built up over a daily routine practicing the same sequence.

With that freedom, and without all the creative fluff, I get to dig deeper and explore the subtle nuances of each pose, and in the process, figure out where and why I’m resisting, or what emotions have cropped up.

This process ultimately spills out into life, and has given me a deeper curiosity into why I react to situations the way I do, and how I can change my behaviors to live a richer, more meaningful, and more present life.

Have you ever tried practicing the same yoga sequence, in the same studio, with the same teachers? What did you most like or least like about it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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