It can take a lot of courage to trust yourself to be the guide of your own practice; while it is not for the faint hearted, sometimes getting to the studio isn’t always possible, particularly at such a busy time of year. For those days when you can’t make it into the studio, take it as an opportunity to dive into your dolphin pose in the comfort of your own home and begin to develop a home practice!
Put yourself at the top of the list
We all too often put our own needs last but it is time to put yourself at the top of the list! If you can’t make it into the studio then chances are this is a time you need your practice most, so don’t neglect it. Set aside some time and more importantly commit!
Roll out your mat
So you have set aside some time and now you must roll out your mat. Consider your environment. Think about how much space you have around you, the temperature, and the amount of distractions nearby. Do your best to make the space as comfortable as possible and try to get into the habit of recreating that each time.
Arrive on your mat
Start with your breath. Come either seated in a comfortable cross-legged position or lying down on your back and before doing anything take a moment to observe your breath. Bring your right hand to your belly and your left hand to your chest. Take a nice deep breath into your belly and feel your chest rise as the breath fills you up; expanding your lungs. Acknowledge the brief moment of stillness between the inhale and exhale; release your breath slowly and feel your body melt into the support of the earth, as your chest falls and your belly concaves. Let any thoughts that pop into your mind, leave just as easily as they arrived. Really take this time to stop and indulge in the present moment. If your thoughts take you hostage then come back to the focus of the breath; on the inhale think of the word ‘I’ and on the exhale think ‘am’. Bring yourself back to the present linking this mantra “I am” with your breath.
Work with what you know
By what you know I don’t necessarily even mean the knowledge you may have acquired from a studio or a teacher. What you know, might simply be an inner knowing of what is right for you at this point in time when arriving on your mat. When coming into a pose feel out whether or not that feels right for your body and allow your inner guru to guide you to what your spirit needs at this point in time. Of course also use the knowledge that you have gained on your mat in previous times and base your practice off that. Starting with some sun salutations is a good idea and from there you can delve into any other poses that come to mind.
Get out of your head and into your body
Just like we wake up in the morning and have a big stretch without too much thought, try to adopt the same tendency with your yoga practice. It really isn’t all about how it looks but rather about exploration of your body, remaining present, and enjoying the process.
If all else fails...
Return to lying on your back and listen to your breath. Whatever came up through your practice, let it go. Whatever your practice amounted to, let it go. Come back to the present moment, show yourself compassion, and be grateful to yourself for making the effort to nourish your soul.
Written by Nicole Ander