The 7 C's of Yoga Home Practice
It begins with intent as action follows choice. Our "intents" are born of a desire for something more. I suggest that love is the heart of the intent, or it may be sabotaged by ego. For example, I chose to practice yoga for the health and aliveness of my heart, body and mind is much more pure than the choice to feel better than another for a beautiful body. The beautiful body will come with yoga but the choice born from purity of self-love and self-care and self-respect is core to the true self.
Before practice begins, take a moment in an easy pose to center. Bow your head to your heart and feel the love and care you bring to the mat. I ask for guidance and protection before practice. I thank my body for its daily service and health.
To create means to be give birth to the new. Although you have practiced triangle pose 1,000 times, this day it is new. As I practice the fundamentals of standing poses or sun salutations, I listen wholeheartedly to my body to allow insights to sequence the next poses. Some days I back off and move to restorative actions. Other days I may focus on hips and hamstrings or neck and shoulders. No practice is a cookie-cutter sequence, although there may be creativity even in a ritual of same sequence. Even if you believe you are not creative, yoga fosters your intuitive knowing. With your yoga experiences, and imagination, what you create becomes stronger with time.
I always encourage my students to practice what they know. I've never been injured in my home practice where I have been injured in workshops. No one is there to guide you so it is imperative to know the basics of alignment and your limitations. I heard of a student who attempted full arm balance (Adho Muka Vrkasana) and she fell and broke her wrist. She was obviously pushing her body past her limits. Practice what you know to protect yourself! However, I suggest you practice at least one posture you resist or do not like as long as you keep safety first.
Yoga teaches us to create composure at will. Will is yang or action energy; love is yin or heart energy. The balance is important. Check that your eyes remain soft, jaw unclenched, neck relaxed, and sense organs remain sensitive yet awake as you practice. Try not to skip Savasana as it is your opportunity to allow the prana to permeate your entire body.
When my love affair with yoga blossomed I said, "I'm practicing yoga every day!" Soon I found my self-esteem hurting as I missed practice. Today, with my busy schedule of teaching, managing a school, family and other work, I know what is practical for me. This week I practiced yoga five times. Some weeks it's more or less. When studying with Patricia Walden years ago she made an impact when she said, "Get to your mat!" She suggested it's better to practice yoga l5 or 20 minutes rather than none at all. With the hectic pace of our lives today, we cherish those 90 minutes sessions. But it's good enough to practice a short while if that is how the day unfolds.
Cherish is one of my favorite words. I find a beauty and a reverence in yoga practice. It always lifts the spirit, calms the mind, and strengthens and aligns the body. I cherish every moment on the mat. Give thanks at the end to the Divine light within for these golden moments of union. What a gift to cherish.