I loved yoga from the first time I tried it at a studio in London 23 years ago. But for years I thought that unless I did an hours practice it was not worth doing and it would not be a ‘real practice’. Consequently due to working full-time as well as teaching at my studio on evenings and weekends, there wasn’t much time left for my yoga practice and I always felt I didn’t have enough time. I felt as though I wasn’t making enough of a commitment. I had this perception that unless I had at least 30 minute slot to practice, there wasn’t much point in rolling out my mat.
It wasn’t until I realised that I could simplify my yoga practice that I started to show up on my mat in a consistent daily way. Interestingly, it was though my deeper experience of Yin Yoga and the teachings of Sarah Powers, which changed my approach to my practice. Practicing yin yoga allowed me to feel more connected in my body, resulting in clearing my mind and settling my emotions. It enabled me to recognise my own patterns of behaviour, especially ‘all or nothing’ attitude. It’s so easy to apply the same ‘rules’ that we apply to our lives in general, with the belief that doing more is better!
My focus is always on how I can simplify what I’m doing – my practice, my life, my business – getting rid of unnecessary clutter, eliminating behaviours that drain me, and developing self-care that really works for me. I know that I needed different self-care at different stages of my life. My self-care needs were different when I worked at the crisis detox centre for drug users in London and are different now that I’m running a yoga wellness studio in Ramsgate. One thing that has remained consistent throughout is my passion for yoga.
I’d like to share some tips that really helped me with my yoga practice:
- Mindful check-in – always begin with acknowledging how you are in this moment. Sit down or lay down, check in how you are on the level of your body, heart (emotions) and mind, and then connect fully with your breath.
Being aware of how you are in the moment needs to inform your practice. You will know intuitively what your needs and limits are. It might feel like you want to do a lot of yang practice – strong flowing vinyasa, building the heat and strength in your body; or you might feel tired and in need to self-nourish and build up your energy, thus choosing to do more yin practice – staying in poses for up to 6 minutes, surrendering and letting go, simply experiencing your breath and the moment. Acknowledge how you feel and be gentle and kind with yourself.
- Follow your body’s wisdom and move with your breath – move your body, feel it from the inside out, allow yourself to fully experience your body and your breath. Enjoy your body!
Do some more yang poses and movements – sun salutations or vinyasa flow, and some yin poses – sitting or lying down and breathing deeply. More yang or yin – depending on your needs in that moment. Do some forward bends, side bends, back bends, twists and inversions. You can do them standing up, sitting down, lying down or do a combination of those. REMEMBER: practice to bring balance within your body, and move your spine in all directions:
- Forward bends
- Side bends
- Back bends
Sometimes we tend to focus on what comes easily to us such as forward bends and avoiding practicing the poses that our body would benefit from, such as backbends or inversions.
- Close your session with gratitude and intention – rest in Savasana for a few moments. It is the most yin pose out of all yoga poses, so take time to rest and surrender. Afterwards sit up and take a few moments to acknowledge what you are grateful for and what is meaningful in your life. Dedicate your practice to somebody you care about or a cause you strongly believe in.
Closing your practice in a purposeful way allows you to recognise that you showed up today – even if feeling tired or self-critical.
Your whole practice may take 10 minutes or it may take an hour an da half, however if you include those 3 steps – Mindful Check-in, Follow your body’s wisdom and move with your breath, and Closing – you will create your sacred space. It’s in those moments of being alone on your yoga mat that you face yourself fully and can connect deeply with yourself.
Come and join us for some workshops at Ramsgate Yoga Studio or connect with me online.
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