“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois
I practice yoga EVERY DAMN DAY – just like the hashtag on social media says. I also teach yoga classes, public and private. My teaching is not my personal practice, nor is my daily practice my teaching – for the most part. Each influences the other, and many times my clients are my teachers in ways for which I am most grateful.
People often assume I’ve a sexy, glorious, flexy-bendy personal practice. Let’s clear that one up ASAP – it’s ugly, brilliant, dirty, surprising, frustrating, astounding – I get mad, I laugh, I cry, I’m ecstatic, and it never ends as I imagined when starting. Some days it’s a challenge to get on my mat, be it time or lack of desire, some days it’s a sweet relief and over too soon. Sound familiar? But I do my best to get in a daily practice, even if its just a few moments of breathing.
My body is not what it was 20 plus years ago when I started this journey. In most ways, it’s better and I’ve an honest appreciation for the miracle of my body/mind/spirit, and I love it way more than I did in those early days. In other ways, it doesn’t bounce back as easily nor does it open up as quickly, and I’m cognizant of my known ‘quirks’, like that wrist I broke a few years ago, my cranky knees, and that too much backbending makes my digestion go haywire.
Yet I practice daily in some form or manner, and my go-to practices are the ones I teach regularly.
Restorative and/or Yin Yoga – I do a restorative and yin type of morning practice usually 4-5 days a week, but often have a short night practice to reconnect with my mind and release the day. I choose to do this to bring balance to the fire of my day, by mindfully practicing lunar poses to help set the tone of the day. Allowing my body/mind/spirit to open and curate a healing sense around sunrise helps me balance the chaos of a full-time job, teaching yoga classes, and constant studying/trainings I immerse myself in. I close my day out most often with a supported restorative pose or two, to release, calm my mind, and prepare for sleep.
Dynamic Yoga – My go-to fire/tapas practice is Ashtanga Primary series, with some Bikram and random creative poses peppered in. I like the pace, the challenge, the tradition and philosophy behind it – and the fire. This is also educational for my body, as I move and balance through the poses, I am able to tell how I am treating my body with nutrition and rest, good breathing practices, and if I’m meditating regularly. This is my regular weekend practice and maybe on an easy weekday as its a good way to wake up. This also can be frustrating, as I can no longer do the jump-throughs like I used to due to wrist issues, nor do I push myself like I did 10 years ago due to lower back issues. This is the practice that makes my body light up, sweat like no one’s business, and yet I have to watch the fire I light, as I don’t bounce back like I used to. But, the savasana is sooo sweet and tasty after 90 or so minutes of tapas/fire.
Meditation – I am heavily meditated. I meditate twice a day, in the morning and at night, and I try to get in a short practice during lunch when I’m at work. My practice, which I’ve been doing in some manner for most of my life, isn’t overly formal. I sit in quiet and breathe (many times with a cat or two on my lap), I walk slowly outside, I lay in my yard and stare at the stars or clouds, I lay with legs up the wall and my hand over my heart, or sometimes I just close my eyes, feels all the feels, and breathe. This practice is most important to me the older I get, as just being present is the hardest and easiest practice.
Pranayama/breathing technologies – My first yoga teacher training really homed in on this practice, and now I couldn’t imagine my life without it. Purposely breathing can lift the spirit, slow or speed up the mind/body, calm the digestion, awaken vitality, and simply bring balance.
I don’t physically practice when I teach yoga, but I do practice mindfulness, presence, and restraint, as my focus is on my clients. These days I am rarely on the mat, unless to demo a pose or show a prop setup, as I’m interacting with the energy of my clients and the space I am holding. Yet during these times, I am the student as much as I am the teacher. I learn from my clients, from how they hold a pose, present their energy, how they open up, and what is holding them back, be it body/mind/spirit. I’ll be honest, I’ve learned some pretty creative hacks from my clients, as we all handle yoga, much like life – in our own way.
What is your daily practice? What are your challenges in having a daily practice?
“Through daily yoga practice we can become present to our own fundamental goodness and the goodness of others.” Donna Fahri