Creating your own personal yoga practice

By Gemma | 16th January 2018
Personal yoga with Gemma on of our health and wellbeing mentors at La Crisalida retreats Spain

Creating your own personal yoga practice, whether you’re new to yoga or a more seasoned practitioner, can feel overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. By developing your own personal yoga practice at home, you can learn to move at your own pace and listen to your body, without distractions or fear of feeling self-conscious.

This article will help you look at ways to ease into a personal yoga practice with the right attitude, ideas to keep you motivated and inspired, and some practical steps.

Attitude

Attitude is a key part of developing your personal yoga practice. It´s not just using sheer determination, rather remember that…

  • Each practice is unique. Your body will feel different, your mind is in a different place, and you’ve experienced a new day. Approaching your mat with a beginners’ mind will keep you curious, and help you drop judgement of yourself (see our article on yoga with a beginners’ mind here.
  • Be patient. It can take time to settle into a practice or routine. You may not know where to start and it may feel overwhelming, but just begin with a little and slowly add on. As with a beginners’ mind, try to stay present and accepting of where you are in your practice. Start simple and build up. If you push yourself too fast too soon, it may create frustration and resentment to the practice, and cause injury which will set you back further.
  • Define your intention for your practice. Why are you doing yoga? How do you hope a personal practice will enhance your life? Are you doing it for health reasons, general flexibility, the need to focus your mind, or a combination of these and more? If you are brand new to yoga and expect to be throwing your feet behind your head from the get-go, then your expectations may be a little misguided! Drop the comparisons with what you see around you or on social media. This is your practice. By defining your intention, you will have a more focussed attitude towards your practice. Your intention will be your anchor to return to.
  • Be curious. Isn´t it interesting how one day you´re strong and poised in Vrksasana (tree pose) and another you´re wobbling all over the place?! It is normal for one side to feel different from the other. Perhaps you may feel differently in the morning compared to an evening practice. For women, you may notice a difference during your cycle. Approach each practice with fresh eyes and curiosity. What is your body telling you today? Re-engage the beginners’ mind.
  • What comes up for you? Our practice can be a great tool as a reflection of daily life. What is our attitude to ourselves during our practice? What is our inner dialogue? We often talk to ourselves quite harshly. Often we approach our practice the same way we approach tasks in life. Perhaps you shy away from challenges, or you tend to grit your teeth and push on through. Take time to tune in and notice what comes up during your practice. You may begin to notice these patterns appear through your daily life. No one sees you during a personal yoga practice, so be aware that any pressure or expectation is coming from you. Investigate that. Once we begin to shine light on aspects that don’t serve us we can begin to change and evolve for the better.
  • Starting a new habit, such as practicing yoga at home, can take time and practice! Read our articles “Seven steps to creating new habits (part 1) (part 2)” for tips on how to create a new habit.

Inspire motivation

We are more than just ourselves, so even though we are talking about your own personal practice, sometimes we all need some motivation and inspiration.

  • Explore local studios, sign up to workshops, and try some DVDs or online classes. All these can help you to build up knowledge of poses and sequences so you know what you´re doing when you’re practising solo.
  • Find teachers that inspire you. We all have different ways of approaching things, different intentions, and different preferences. There will never be a one size fits all approach, so finding a teacher who resonates with you will keep you motivated in your practice. This could be someone local or online. Shop around.
  • If you have been practicing for a while, a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) could be a great idea. YTTs are not just for budding teachers. Many people invest in this training to open themselves up to a deeper understanding of yoga philosophy, their own practice, and ultimately themselves.
  • Retreats are also a great way to discover different types of yoga. Here at La Crisalida we offer Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin and Restorative, amongst others. You can find out more about our yoga retreat here.

Variety in your personal yoga practice

Many of us love having variety in our lives, and the same applies to our yoga practice.

  • It´s worth exploring different types of yoga, from more energetic (or “yang”) yoga where the focus is on muscle strength and flexibility, to “yin” which is more grounding and targets the connective tissues (see our article on Yin yoga here. This will not only keep your practice varied and interesting, but will enable you to give your body the practice it needs in the moment. For example, you may have planned to do an energetic Vinyasa flow, but when you come to it, your body asks for something slow and restorative. With broader knowledge of what is available to you, you can give yourself the attention you need, when you needs it.
  • Complement your yoga practice with other disciplines and sports. Strength work is important to keep joints stable and strong, as well as providing a healthy balanced routine. It´s also important to do a variety of workouts to use different muscles groups, and avoid stress from performing the same thing over and over.
  • Supplement your yoga practice with complementary disciplines such as meditation, mindfulness, and breathwork. These can be done separately and also integrated into your daily practice (see one of our articles on meditation here).

Logistics – the practical stuff

Make it easy for yourself to practice yoga at home.

  • Set time aside. Having your practice woven into your schedule will give you peace of mind that you will be able to dedicate time to it, and ease the stress of trying to cram it in amongst other prioritise. You´re also more likely to do it if it´s booked in! You can set aside time each day, or even just once or twice a week.
  • Find a space to practice that is undisturbed. If this sounds close to impossible, perhaps let your family know in advance, so they know that this is your time to focus on yourself. Ultimately, by giving yourself some attention, you will be able to give them more of your best self.
  • Create a basic sequence. This can act as your “go-to” sequence. You can build from there. This could be as simple as starting with meditation and breathwork, followed by floor work, such as cat/cow and seated twists to wake up and prepare the body and focus the mind. Move on to some rounds of Sun Salutation to invigorate the body, generate warmth and connect movement and breath. For a more rounded practice you might include some standing and balancing poses (perhaps twists and inversions) to hone in on more strength and flexibility. Then ease back down to the floor for a warm down with some calming forward folds or even restorative poses, to absorb the practice, quieten the mind, and slowly wind down to relaxation in savasana.

Whilst honing your personal yoga practice, remain open and listen to your body. If your body is asking for something other what you had planned, be flexible to changing and adapting. Perhaps just a specific part of the body wants attention. By using complementary disciplines alongside your yoga, you will gain more from your yoga practice. Include classes online or at a studio, into your week so that your personal practice doesn’t become stagnant, and it gives you’re the opportunity to fully be the student.

Above all, be patient and kind to yourself. That in itself is part of the practice! Yoga is called a “practice” because there is no end destination. This is your personal journey. Enjoy it!

gemma health and wellbeing mentor at La Crisalida yoga retreat
Gemma

Gemma is a yoga teacher and is currently studying counselling.

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