It might seem a bit odd for a teacher to be encouraging you to practice on your own so that, ultimately, you might no longer need a teacher. But yoga self-practice is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself… and, ultimately, yoga is all about self-empowerment.
Attending a yoga class is a great way to learn. There is something motivating and inspiring about practicing yoga as a group. It provides a reassuring structure to your week to know that you will be practicing yoga at a certain time, in a certain place. You meet like-minded people and get an hour to yourself to switch off and focus on you.
However, by developing your own yoga self-practice you will develop a deeper relationship with yourself and your body and you will have a tool that you can use anytime and anywhere to enhance your health and wellbeing.
Here are six reasons to develop your own yoga self-practice:
(1) You will learn to listen to your body
When someone else is directing you in a yoga class, your focus is largely on listening to them and moving your body in response to their direction.
But, if you start to listen to your body instead, you will begin to hear what it is telling you – what it wants and needs. And you can respond accordingly.
It might let you know it needs a particular kind of stretch or pose to release tension or strengthen a certain part of your body.
Every one of us is different and every day is different. A yoga self-practice allows you to meet your body exactly where it is on any particular day.
(2) You will connect to your intuition
When we are being taught, it is easy to forget our own inner wisdom and knowing and rely on someone else to direct us.
Once you have learned the basics of yoga, developing your own practice means you are relying on your own intuition to show you what to do in response to where you are in that moment.
It might feel odd at first but, over time, you will come to trust your inner voice.
(3) There’s no excuse not to practice daily
Going to a yoga class can become expensive if you do it more than once or twice a week, unless you are on a good monthly unlimited package. And, with the pressures of work, childcare and family life, it is not always easy to find the time in your schedule to go to the class you want.
Cultivating a self-practice is something that you can do at home, making a commitment to wake up a little earlier, or find half an hour when you get back from work.
All you need to do is find a corner of your room to practice in. You can do it when the children have gone to sleep or whilst dinner is cooking or early in the morning before the rest of the family is awake.
(4) You will learn to tune into your breath
In yoga we always start with the breath. Begin your self-practice with a few minutes of breathing exercises.
Then throughout your practice, allow the breath to guide you. If you find yourself getting distracted, pause and reconnect with your breath. Such a practice will benefit you throughout every area of your life.
(5) It nurtures your independence
Developing a yoga self-practice takes focus, commitment and dedication. It is empowering to develop your own sequence of moves that is exactly what your body needs.
At first, it is common to feel a little unsure, but as you continue to practice you will grow in confidence, and yoga can become a daily refuge from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
(6) It will teach you patience
At first you might become impatient with yourself. It can be a challenge to remember the poses without someone there to guide you. It can also often be hard to remember to breathe and to stay present and focused. But like learning any new skill, it will become easier in time and the rewards will be worth it.
Yoga is not about doing things quickly, it is about patience, persistence and practice.
Developing a regular self-practice is an ideal way to build on the skills you have learned in class and to embed yoga into your everyday life, which will ensure you derive maximum benefit from it.
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