We yogalilans love to go to workshops and classes. Workshops invigorate and inspire, revive a flagging practice, provide direction, breakthroughs, and eureka moments. Classes give us a sense of community and continuity, a feeling of connection with our fellow students and our teachers. The shared energy and encouragement helps us enjoy our own practice in a way that practicing solo may not. Some yogalilans are now in teacher training programs and working very hard to absorb all the wisdom they can from their mentors, entrenching their new skills into their practices, and kindling their voices and intuition as they begin to reach out to their own students.
However, there are times in our lives when practicing alone, and seemingly in isolation, becomes the order of the day. It becomes difficult to find fellowship, new ideas, and inspiration. It may be a period where you simply can’t absorb any new information, and instead need to focus on translating what you’ve learned into your own body on your own mat. It may be a time when changes in scheduling, financial commitments, or career directions make it impossible to seek out and travel to workshops, or to regularly attend classes. In any case, it is a time where it seems to be just you, your body, and your mat. Can practice remain consistent, fruitful, and satisfying?
I have been reflecting on this question for the last few months, as a change in schedule has made it impossible to go to regular classes, and I have not been to a workshop since Fr. Joe Pereira was in my area last September. So, for the most part, it’s just been me and my mat. I miss my yoga friends, I miss the high-test jolt of inspiration that workshops give you. But, persistently and patiently, I continue to drag out my mat, and let the practice unfold. It isn’t always exciting. In fact, it rarely is. But it’s personal, essential, and if I’m really paying attention, I can watch my poses evolve – not necessarily in getting my chin closer to my leg, or my feet closer to my head, but in a sort of slow illumination of the “black holes” in the body – the areas that we didn’t realize we could even feel, or be aware of, till we came into the pose and watched, waited, and breathed. At other times, I have the opportunity to share practice with a friend, or with my family. Yoga with my children, without necessarily being “yoga for children”, is another way I can remain refreshed and interested in my own practice. I journal, and sometimes find inspiration looking back through old journals and workshop notebooks – perhaps a pose to revisit, an attitude that needs to be shifted, an awareness lost or regained.
We all need to find strategies for keeping our practice meaningful to us when we essentially find ourselves practicing alone. What do you like to do?
note: if you don't already have a personal practice, or are unsure how to start one, one of the best resources I've seen on the internet is Kelly McGonigal's page on ideas for yoga practice . If you've never been there before, have a look.