The best way to begin a personal practice? Start.
BY MAGAZINE EDITOR SUSAN MAIER-MOUL
Preparation Stop thinking about it, just get up.
Step 2 Do a posture or two. Any posture you remember. ANY posture. If you’re enjoying it, do the same posture twice.
Step 3 Notice how you feel. Sometimes it’s nice to lie on your back while you do this.
Finish Go on with the rest of your day.
Fifteen minutes. Maybe twenty. Repeat daily.
Is it really that simple to start your own yoga practice?
Will it really work? Will it be meaningful?
Yes, yes, and unequivocally, yes.
The 3 No Excuses, No Nonsense
Principles of Personal Practice
Or, relax. You’ll be fine.
How can a meaningful, effective personal practice start in such an absurdly non-dogmatic way? Because of the 3 incontrovertible truths of any kind of personal practice, that’s how.
- You don’t have to know as much as you think you have to know
- It helps to have at least one clear-to-you reason why you want to practice
- You’ll find out more, understand better, and see results that matter to you the more consistently you stick with it
Notice the bullets are arranged from simple to complex.
Today: The Simple
You don’t have to know as much as you think you have to know. To start a yoga practice you don’t have to know the names of postures, you don’t have to know the sanskrit word for your third eye, or be able to lift up here and push down there at the same time, or how to step from one posture right into the next.
Really. In spite of what everyone will tell you about the right way to practice yoga, all of it for your own good of course, once your doctor has OK’d you for yoga, you’ll probably be fine if you follow one simple rule:
Don’t do anything that hurts.
The confusing part of that for most people is that we often begin yoga from a place in our lives where we can’t feel anything. Saying don’t do anything that hurts might sound a lot like saying “do anything.” It isn’t.
The even simpler version of “don’t do anything that hurts” is
I began to practice yoga in my early 40’s. I’d been a runner most of my life, from my teenage years running on the ghost of a faded track in a farm town schoolyard to the long and blissful loops I clocked around Charles River bridges in Cambridge.
It wasn’t until my body began to break down, until my ankles and knees began to malfunction in ways for which no new pair of sneakers could compensate, that I realized all that running had been holding my world together.
When I could no longer find my endorphin-fueled coping high, I had to face an urgent array of symptoms warning me
As good as it all looked from the outside
my life was not actually working.
My first yoga teacher would watch me in a posture and ask how it felt to me. Not understanding what he could possibly mean, I’d shrug. “I’m fine.”
He’d ask again. “Does it feel good?”
My variations on “Yeah, sure,” and “I guess so, why not,” often led to him suggesting I move my feet.
He’d ask, “Does that feel better?”
I told my friends, “I don’t get this yoga thing.”
“I think they’re all fronting or something. I mean, can you believe he moves me two inches and asks how it feels? I always say “oh thanks, that’s better.” That’s what everyone else says.”
It begs the question:
If I thought it was such bullshit, why did I keep going?
Tomorrow: It helps to have at least one clear-to-you reason why you want to practice.
We may publish any content, comments or ideas sent to us.
Name may be withheld by request.
© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.