Just me and My Yoga: The Importance of (Truly) Independent Practice Right Now

Apr 10, 2020

 

Don’t get me wrong, current circumstances aside I really love (and teach, and practice) online yoga. You get the benefit of a virtual teacher while continuing your commitment to your yoga practice, and people are really enjoying the support and connection it affords, especially during this time of social isolation.
 
Yet, even with the plethora of online offerings, and maybe especially because of them, I find myself craving the intimacy of my independent practice these days more than ever.

By independent practice I mean what I do on my mat without anyone else telling me what to do, how long to do it for, and what to do next. 

As a teacher and teacher trainer, I’ve long been a proponent of independent practice. And not just for teachers either, although I’m convinced it is the single most important perquisite to powerful and impactful teaching. I believe independent practice is essential for anyone who wishes to use yoga as more than a physical practice or movement modality. Why?

Because when no one else is telling you what to do, your yoga becomes an inner engagement, a unique and intimate way of being with yourself, and an entry point into self-reflection. And all of those are at a premium right now, for a few reasons:

1. Like many of us I suppose, my practice is one of the only parts of my day where I feel a sense of continuity and normalcy.  That’s grounding and freeing, especially when I’m doing it in absolute solitude.

2. Also like many of us, my workday is largely spent at my keyboard and interacting with others through a screen.  So getting offline for practice feels like a welcome and needed break from my currently expanded digital life.

3. In and of itself, my need for quietude is nothing new. But these days it feels even more critical that I take some time daily to turn off the outer noise and cultivate the internal focus and self-reflective stance that silent, solo practice allows.

4. Independent practice is a way to process the raw, sometimes intense, emotions and moods which are absolutely to be expected during these uncertain times.

There’s a comfort in the welcoming space of my mat, in the presence of my breath, and in practicing the familiar forms of the poses. It allows me to feel what I’m feeling and to move through the intensity of these days through loving release and connection. Solo practice is n anchor for me to meet myself where I am, calm my mind and my nervous system, to breathe, to release and move through my emotional landscape.

Of course guided practice does this too, only the quality of the inner engagement feels so much deeper and more intimate when the only thing I can hear is my breath and my own inner voice. It’s empowering and freeing to know I can bring my raw emotions to the mat and move through them on my own.

This is why I’ll always be an advocate for your personal and independent engagement with yoga. 

Whatever part of yoga you love, whatever you need it to do for you right now, whatever role it plays for you in your life, independent practice allows it to be all that and more. 

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