When I completed my 200 hour yoga training, my lead teachers kept talking about having a home practice. I would go home and roll my yoga mat out and try to recreate a sequence I learned in class. Often, I would get a few poses in and and just get stuck. I’d be hanging out in a high lunge trying to think of what comes next.
Or I would “forget” to roll my mat out at all. Living in Austin in my 20’s meant that there was always a farmer’s market, new band, or food truck to explore. It wasn’t rare that I would be too tired to come to my mat between social time, work, and all the yoga I was doing in my training and regular classes.
Once I received my certification and began teaching, I still struggled with creating time for a regular personal practice, despite one of my favorite teachers telling me that real teaching starts at home. It wasn’t until I signed up for an Anusara Immersion that required a regular home practice as a pre-requisite that I finally began to settle into a steady practice.
The first surprise I found is that my practice didn’t always look like the vinyasa classes that filled my afternoons. It also didn’t look like the Beginner’s yoga classes I was teaching at the studio. Instead, I began to find my own rhythm of movement and asana – sometimes quickly flowing through the poses, other times holding and tweaking as I played with different alignment cues.
I learned that committing to a daily practice meant I had to honor where I was each day. Energy ebbs and flows, some days I was healthier than others, and some I had more or less time. Creating an opportunity for practice gave me the space I needed to dive deeper into the other limbs of yoga. I fell in love with the feeling of peace or soft energy I could create with my pranayama practice. I was gifted a mantra by said favorite teacher, and I found the power of working with that mantra in meditation and off the mat. I played around with fusing different breath techniques into movement, and with variations that helped meet my needs in the moment.
Some of what I played with found it’s way into my class, all of my time led me to a deeper and more connected practice.
7 Benefits of a Steady Yoga Practice
1. Your body will improve every time you come to your mat.
Your fingertips will slowly lengthen towards the floor in your forward fold and your front leg will get stronger in Warrior Two. It will happen incrementally and you might not even notice until suddenly, you find that bind you could never get.
2. You will see the profound shifts that happen with a little movement.
Especially when you come to the mat when you don’t feel like it. It is amazing the change that can happen in the space of three salutations to the sun.
3. You will start to learn which variations work best for your body.
As you meet yourself on the mat after a day spent hiking for miles or after a week sick in bed, you’ll learn to find the pose with the body you have.
4. Your immune system will be stronger.
Yoga and deep breathing activate your lymph nodes, which are your body’s natural healers. Not only will you get sick less often, but you’ll notice when you are under the weather sooner and be able to take care of yourself.
5. If you teach yoga, you’re unique offering will begin to define itself.
You will discover interesting ways to transition between poses, fun new sequences, or how to teach your students better ways of finding alignment. All by diving into your own practice.
6. You will be more patient, calmer, and more compassionate with the people in your life.
Aligning and moving your body even through the simplest of yoga poses will keep old emotions from storing and getting blocked in your body. That will keep you more serene, and the people around you will be calmer too, because we affect each other.
7. Your intuition will increase, allowing you to find your true path and walk away from toxic people or situations
Yoga teaches you to tune in and observe your mind, body, and emotions. As you learn to listen, you’ll find that there is more to hear.
The Bhagavad Gita tells us that “on the path of yoga, no progress is every lost.”
Each time you come to the mat is a step forward, whether you unroll your mat daily or only once a week. Ultimately, my greatest lesson in committing to a daily practice is that I don’t beat myself up if my practice isn’t a strong flow every day. I’ve learned to soften to myself and to offer the option of a seated meditation if my body doesn’t feel like flowing through vinyasa. I’ve learned that time spent in a breathing practice isn’t time wasted, but instead a powerful tool to harness the tides of the emotions and the mind. I’ve also learned that it’s normal to experience difficulties in getting to the mat. Patanjali wrote about these thousands of years ago and listed out Barriers to Practice.
Are you unsure of where to start? Schedule a private session to work together and craft a unique sequence that meets your needs. We can work in person or virtually. Practice the same sequence daily or variations of it. If you are in Tampa, join me next month for a workshop at Jai Dee Yoga on how to create your practice.