For beginners and advanced yoga practitioners alike, it is often the case that we step onto our yoga mats with an agenda of some kind. Sometimes, we think we need to address the body in a specific way. Or, maybe, we are driven to do a lot of hip openers, a back-bending series of poses, build to a “peak pose” of some kind, and so on.
While it can be helpful to practice with a specific plan or sequence in mind, it is equally beneficial to show up to your practice with no expectations or goals.
If you like going to your yoga mat with no boxes to check, that’s fine. However, sometimes without some guidelines, you might not be entirely sure what to do with yourself and end up just walking away. This is called practice reluctance, and it’s not uncommon to experience it from time to time.
Practice reluctance can take on different forms. For example, it can show up as an excuse that you are too busy to carve out time for yoga. Or, maybe since you don’t have anyone guiding your practice, it’s easier to tell yourself that you really need to do cardio instead.
Another likely scenario that sabotages us is when we eschew yoga practice because of an injury or aches and pains and tell ourselves that we’d be better off not practicing yoga for fear of doing further harm to ourselves.
News flash! Yoga is therapy, and there is ALWAYS something beneficial we can do. So instead of focusing on what we can’t do, focus on what we can do!
YOGA AS INQUIRY AND EXPLORATION
You can view your yoga practice as an invitation to inquire and explore what your body needs and then do as it directs. Here are some suggestions for practice and questions you can “pose” to yourself as you set out on your yoga inquiry and exploration.
SUGGESTIONS FOR AN ORGANIC YOGA PRACTICE
What would feed your soul at this moment? Through deep listening, you can be informed by the body as to which movements, postures, mudras, breath work, and meditation it needs to open up to the possibility that everything is just as it should be and allow yourself to feel comfortable and at ease. Have faith and trust the process!
How far away from your body are you living? Take a moment to check in and take inventory of what your body FEELS like it needs instead of doing what you THINK you should do.
Can you make the posture more palatable by embracing everything that presents itself? Bring non-judgmental attention to the posture rather than a dialogue that suggests something negative.
Are you over-recruiting muscles? Lessen tensile restriction and produce only as much effort as needed to build a benevolent effect.
Is your attention being pulled up into your mind? When your attention wraps itself around a thought, recognize this as mental landfill, then dump out the landfill’s contents. Do this by giving the mind permission to paint a more bucolic sort of landscape, and with each exhale, repeat “let go” to yourself silently.
Do you need to slow down? Healing occurs more slowly in remote areas of the body; therefore, energy must be moved gradually into the deeper nooks and crannies. Be sure to maximize inhalations and exhalations, being generous with your breath. Give each aspect of the breath adequate time and space to deliver the energy.