6 Ways to Kickstart Your Self-Practice

by Simone Timmers | July 26, 2020 9:23 pm

Attending class at your favorite yoga studio can be very rewarding. It might be just what you needed to clear your head after a long day. But obtaining a solid self-practice can be even more rewarding, if you go about it the right way. And the best part? You can hop on your mat anytime you feel like it.

Sure, it can feel a little daunting if you’ve never stepped on your mat all by yourself, without the guidance of your trusty teacher. But that’s okay! It’s all part of enriching your practice. The first part of your practice, or heck, maybe even the first couple of practices, can be a little rusty. You might find yourself stuck in a pose trying to figure out what’s next. But if you follow these six tips you’ll be flowing in no time, taking your practice to higher levels.

1. Do a Quick Body Scan

This is such a great way to start any practice. Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and check-in with yourself. Where are your thoughts right now? And how does your body feel? Your shoulders might be aching from hunching over your laptop earlier today. Or maybe you’re a little sleepy as you just rolled out of bed. Your self-practice is dedicated to precisely how you feel. No teacher telling you which pose to get into, just you and your mind, body and soul, present at the mat.

Fancy some yummy shoulder stretches today? Incorporate as many as you want! Or maybe you’re not up for a power flow today with lots of chaturangas. Not a problem, spend some more time in stretches and stick with a mellow flow today.

Your own practice is a great way of getting to know your body. Listen closely to it, and you’ll eventually learn what movement suits you best.

2. Turn on Some Good Tunes

Sure, your favorite teacher might have some sweet, soulful music during her class. But have you ever tried flowing through pop hits from the eighties? I can proudly tell you that I have, and I had the most fun on my mat I’ve had in a long time.

I made various playlists on Spotify that align with either my mood or type of flow. If I’m feeling energized I’ll put on my Power Flow playlist, and if I’m feeling a little down I’ll listen to my playlist filled with soothing tunes. Spotify is perfect for this, as they’ll suggest similar songs to the ones in your playlist.

You’ll be discovering gems you’ve never heard of in no time, and those are the best practice boosters.

Pick your own music and get creative. Your playlist doesn’t have to consist solely out of the classic yoga music you might hear across studios alike. Throw in some Donna Summer and you’ll be in your first successful full expression before you know it.

3. Find what feels good

The best part about your own practice is that it’s in a completely personalized pace. Forget about time for as much as your mind allows you to, and be present.

Does that forward fold feel extra nice today? Great, linger in it. Didn’t quite lift off in your crow? Then give it another go. It’s completely up to you how long you spend in which pose.  Just don’t rush anything, and your body will thank you later.

If you’re not feeling a certain pose, being in a full yoga class might put pressure on yourself to do the pose anyway. It’s not what yoga stands for, but we’ve probably all been there. Y’know, ego versus soul and all that. Be kind to your body, and find what feels good to you.

4. Create a space

This is a little mental trick that’s great to get stuff done. Dedicate a certain spot in your
house solely towards this task, and you’ll trick your mind into doing it more effortlessly when
you’re in that space.

Don’t worry if you live in a tiny apartment and don’t have the actual space to make your ownyoga studio, because many of us don’t. But here’s where it gets interesting: It can be as simple as rolling out your mat in a certain spot every time, and placing some objects in a certain way. Maybe it’s a scented candle you love, or your favorite house plant. Make sure your space is similar each and every time you practice, and you’ll slowly notice how this affects your brain into mentally preparing for practice.

5. Do your research

Nowadays yoga teachers are everywhere, and they love to share their style or approach to certain things. Some have great content on Instagram, where they post complete sequences. Looking through those sequences can help you craft your own sequence, big time. Of course, your teachers from your studio can be a huge part of where you get your inspiration from as well. Or there’s different books, diving deep into asanas and sequences. A little research before you start can get you a long way. Think about what you’d like to accomplish with your self-practice, and make sure it involves poses you have practiced before in presence of a teacher. Let’s be honest with ourselves. At home alone on your mat isn’t the best place to try out scorpion handstand if you’ve never tried an inversion before.

6. Have fun

This is the most important one: have fun with it! Don’t stay any longer on your mat than you
feel like. Don’t wiggle yourself into poses you’re not feeling. Just stick to your true self and have fun with it.

Play a little in your poses, move a little more in a certain pose than you’re used to. Did you know a down dog feels completely different when lifting up to the fingertips of one hand? And that when you’re by yourself, you can go full-out with your lion’s breath without holding

back? Explore, flow, and have fun!

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