What do you need today?

What is your yoga practice for?  This is a good question to ask yourself as you come to your mat to practice at home.  This simple question, when considered quietly and with focus will lead you to understand and to give yourself exactly what you need from your asana/pranayama/meditation practice on any given day.

Sometimes, it will be right to push yourself beyond your previous boundaries, to test your courage, your strength and your flexibility, to attempt asana/breathing practices/meditations that you have previously found challenging.  On other days, it will be more appropriate to move slowly and mindfully, or to sit quietly to meditate on something familiar.  The trick is in understanding your differing needs; over time, you will learn how to respond to them appropriately.

Some people find it hard to motivate themselves to get to their mat at all, and once there the feeling that they don't really know what they are supposed to be doing and can't remember any of the poses leads them to give up easily.  But some cat stretches, a standing forward bend, savasana, or some simple breathing practice (of the 'I am breathing in; I am breathing out' kind) is sufficient and could lead you to your intended outcome.

Other people find it hard to believe that 10 minutes of gentle stretches constitutes a worthwhile yoga asana practice; that yoga should be 90 minutes of sweat and hard work, or nothing at all.

But I have come to my mat for 90 minutes of hard work and for 10 minutes of very gentle stretches and emerged feeling more whole, more happy and more centred from both.

Every yoga practice should draw you nearer to kindness, focus, gentleness, strength, serenity, peace and joy.  It should always bring more ease to your body and mind.  But how you get there will differ from day to day.  Sometimes you will find your centre by working hard; sometimes you will find it by giving yourself gentleness.  And it might not even happen on your mat. Sometimes it's enough to take a walk in the countryside (having left your phone at home); sometimes it's curling up with a good book; going for a swim; knitting a jumper... In your heart, you know what does it for you.

No yoga practice is ever a waste of time.  If you start with that premise, then you can't go wrong.

"On this path effort never goes to waste and there is no failure.  Even a little effort towards spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear."
Bhagavad Gita 2:40


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