Practice makes perfect… except perhaps when it comes to a Yoga Practice.
A yoga asana practice is just that… a practice. The same yoga routine should not be practiced over and over in the attempts for perfecting a pose or out of habit. Reason: we are not the same each and every day. A yoga practice should reflect the uniqueness of each day. We may be fatigued… or perhaps be alert. We may have been sedentary, perhaps sitting at a computer all day or just coming in from a long walk…..and this is just considering how our physical body is doing. What about the range of stress and energy levels which can vary within a day? What does make a yoga practice ‘practically perfect’, is when it is done with attention and awareness to how one is feeling and needing when stepping onto the mat.
Yoga is all about connecting our mind to our spirit energy. The movements of the body and the breath create this connection allowing us to become more balanced in our body-mind-spirit. Here are some general recommendations to gain the most benefit from a yoga practice, or any exercise routine:
Before beginning to the movements, pause and focus on your breath. Within this time complete a “check in” to assess how you are feeling. Remember, your exercise practice should vary from day to day depending on how you are feeling. Take into consideration the time of day and what other activities you have done prior to coming to your mat. Ask yourself these questions to guide you in your exercise activity:
Am I feeling stressed? Do I have any discomfort? Do I need to relax?
If YES: *Allow yourself to focus on your breathing for quieting and improved focus prior to progressing into the exercise movements.
Am I feeling tight? Am I sore? Do I feel the need to focus on stretching?
IF YES: *Warm up your body through movements in and out of the pose or exercise activity, then hold stretches for 30 seconds, or as tolerated. The use of supportive yoga blocks, blankets and/or a straps, can greatly assist and optimize safe alignment.
Do I feel the need to work on strength?
IF YES: *After warming up, hold poses to “controlled fatigue” which is the length of time you can hold the pose safely, breathe, smile while keeping good alignment. The length of time the pose is held or repeated will vary from day to day. Again, the use of supports can be greatly beneficial.
Know and trust that the movements and breathing in a yoga practice can never be repeated perfectly nor done the same way each time. Nor should they be repeated the same way each time! Remember, each day brings different energy levels and needs within your physical body. Your yoga practice should be unique to what each day brings.
Practice patience with yourself. Practice self-awareness. This is what makes for a perfect yoga practice!
Still have questions on creating a yoga practice which is perfect for you? Contact Roselee Wondra at St. Francis Rehabilitation Services in Shakopee. Roselee is a Physical Therapist and Professional Yoga Therapist with specialization of the use of yoga in medical self-care. Contact her with any questions you may have about beginning your own individualized yoga practice: Roselee.Wondra@allina.com or at (952) 428-2001.