Every body is unique. So your yoga practice should be unique too. Our bodies all have their own unique pasts, presents and futures. Whether it's injuries, genetics, or limitations, everyone has them.
Creating self-awareness around our body’s needs, wants, and boundaries is the back bone of the physical asana practice. Accepting our bodies as they are in the present moment keeps negativity from entering the mind. Inviting humour and playfulness to our mats helps keeps us humble with a smile on our lips.
As we delve into our practice, we begin to transcend physical movement. We search through our bodies from within each movement and create self-awareness.
In Cow Pose (from Cat/Cow), we are not just dropping our bellies and lifting our gaze. The abdominals begin to elongate, our chest expands towards the sky, the throat cranes upward, our lower back activates. Our focus shifts from the asana, to the movement within the asana. Once this shift begins, we can invite unique movements into our muscles, tendons, and ligaments to best serve our unique bodies.
Loving ourselves with our current abilities nourishes positive thinking and self-esteem. We practice being appreciative for what our bodies can do today instead of comparing them, today, to what they could once do or should be able to do.
Change is inevitable. Our body’s flexibility shifts with our actions, our age, and our practice. Never compromise your body’s safety to go too deep into a pose. Let your body be as it is; breathe into the movement. Accept your body as it is; letting go of what was and being open to what will be.
Being creative and fresh with our practice keeps the excitement of learning in our minds. While we try out different poses, we feel out our boundaries of balance, strength, and concentration. The way we do a pose is unique because each of us is unique.
Allow yourself to fall. Let laughter enter the room. Come back to your breath. Put a smile to your lips. Keep exploring. “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
How do you make your practice unique?
Contributed by guest author Sierra Koethe, Yoga Teacher Training Alum