Yoga: Set the scene for self-love when you set out to practice

SelfLoveThere are some days when the thought of sweating out on my yoga mat is far from appealing and either because I simply don’t have the energy or my body just plain isn’t up to it. I began my practice in the ashtanga tradition which I found eventually, became an obstacle to my growth in yoga practice as the idea of doing a ton of sun salutations felt like a giant mountain I must climb.

I completely understand the philosophy behind ashtanga and the idea of being self disciplined however, if it reaches the point where you are almost completely put off yoga because you haven’t done your ten sun salutations and therefore feel like a failure, I see it as counterproductive. When I teach yoga now, I retain the elements of the physical practice that I feel contain power and adapt the sequence according to my energy levels and mood at the time. If find that I now practice much more frequently as it feels more a practice of self love and discovery – trying new poses not in the sequence, including some poses which I feel are very nurturing. At the same time, I do balance this with making sure that I’m not only doing the poses that I enjoy as I am well aware that there is far more to be gained from my practice of pigeon for example, which goes against the grain of the structure of my body compared with doing 100 downward dogs which I feel I could do all day. My ashtanga practice became about getting through the sequence and getting onto the next rather than playing with my body to see how it responded and being more in the moment which completely defeats the object – I say object with irony since we are actually aiming to let go of any idea of ‘object’ in order to see more clearly.

Something else I do is to set the scene for my practice. This reminds me that my practice is my time. It’s about nurturing my connection with myself and I see it as a romantic love affair. This also makes the process much more enjoyable. So next time you practice, treat yourself. Light some candles, play your favourite music in line with your mood whether it’s upbeat and dancey or gentle and spiritual, burn your favourite oils and use a yoga mat that you love the colour of. You could even finish by spending some time rubbing in moisturiser or giving yourself a foot rub after your final meditation.  Anything which encourages you to enjoy being in this space alone will help motivate you to practice in future and deepen your self-love.

Enjoy your practice. It’s all yours.