How do I know if I am doing it right?
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Recently, as we were sipping our after-class tea, one of the students asked: "how do I know if I am doing it right?" This is an absolutely brilliant question and one that does not have a straightforward and simple answer.
There are certainly some dos and don'ts in a yoga practice and they are there to protect students from injury. There are also some general themes that one tries to adhere to in a yoga practice. These include the breath, the search for alignment, attunement with and respect for our body. When you are in class, your teacher will cue the class to this and make sure that all students are practicing safely, breathing and listening to their bodies.
However, most of our practice is an exploration. When we are on the mat, we investigate the postures and these postures are forever evolving. What makes yoga yoga is the integration of the breath and the presence of being as we are on our mat. What is also required is effort. Each individual movement as well as each transition require effort, attention and breath. It is with these elements that we can achieve transformation. And yoga is about transformation. It is about transformation of the physical, the mental and the spiritual. As we practice, our body changes, the way we feel in our body transforms, the way we feel with ourselves evolves. Yoga impacts our nervous system, it affects the functioning of our organs, it ensures that our body tissue is healthy and hydrated. There are endless benefits to yoga. How does one really know if one is reaping all the benefits of this practice and doing it right? The reality is that we do know and at the same time we don't know.
When we practice, we are aware of change, we are aware of transformation. However, it can be hard to truly pin it down to hard facts. We benefit from a general sense of well being, from improved health, from healthier relationships, our life takes on a deeper meaning. Transformation is not something that reaches a static point. One does not get to a final destination. It is an endless journey of constant shift and evolution; as humans we are constantly evolving, the planet is evolving, the universe is evolving. We do not live in a static world and our practice has the same dynamics.
This is what one can sense as a yoga practitioner. It is this evolution, this transformation. And this is something that you can explore in each and every micro part of your yoga practice. Yoga is made of subtleties and generally a yoga instructor will cue the class to these subtleties. But the reality is that the yoga practice is your own and down to your individual experience. That is what is real and what leads to your individual growth. You want to experience your own yoga practice deep within. Your teacher can offer guidance to help you achieve this experience but ultimately the experience is yours and for yourself to live and breathe.
Sri Pattabhi Jois says: "Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory". This is the key. it is all down to practice and to your individual experience of it.
I wish you well on your exploration!
If you would like to discover the art of cultivating a Yoga practice at home, Erika is running a series of workshops at Samsara Mind and Body, that will help lay out a guiding map for a successful and enjoyable self-practice. They will provide simple tools, which can be used and deployed when required. You can book onto to just one of the workshops or come to all three, depending on your needs and interests!
Part 1 - Asana | Sunday 19th January | 14.00 – 16.30 | £30
Find out more here