Deepen Your Practice
Does Deepen Your Practice have a program?
We have had a lot of questions on whether or not Deepen Your Practice will come with a program or not. While people always come with expectations based on what they know, we at Udaya believe in giving our teachers the finest canvas and allowing them to create what their vision of the practice should look like. So in response to the question of whether or not Deepen Your Practice will have a program we turned to Vytas to explain. Here is what he had to say.
What is Deepen Your Practice?
Deepening your practice is not an easy task. It takes discipline and persistence. Yoga becomes something that we are no longer doing only on our sticky mats but something that we can practice in every area of our lives. So what exactly is it that we are cultivating then. Should we be doing handstands and warrior poses all day long, everywhere we go? Absolutely not. The physical postures are very beneficial to open and strengthen our bodies, but there is so much more to gain from a deep yoga practice. What we are cultivating is mindfulness. When we learn how to focus and train our minds, it is truly beneficial to everything that we do. A scattered and reactive mind will lead to stress, anxiety, strained relationships, problems at work, sleepless nights, and a lot of tension in the body. A focused and clear mind will lead us to our higher purpose; to live fully, love those around us and give as much of ourselves to the world we live in. It is for this reason that the most important part of the Deepen Your Practice program is your meditation practice. Do you have to sit for hours every day? That is unrealistic for most of us. However you should take some amount of time to sit every day. If you only have five minutes then so be it, but try for more. An optimal time to get solid benefits is twenty minutes. Take this time to focus and clear your mind. The meditation practice that is introduced here is Anapana meditation, which is simple breath awareness. If there is a different technique that you like to practice instead, then by all means, go for it. Just be sure to do it every single day.
How do I go deeper?
Many new students are obsessed with the physicality of yoga. They make their goals purely about attaining a certain strength or flexibility. No physical ideal will lead us to enlightenment. When we go deeper in our practice, we realize that there is no pose that can make us happy. Sure it’s fun to hold a handstand away from the wall for our first time but that doesn’t mean our lives will magically improve. Any gymnast can walk into a yoga room and do every single advanced posture. Does that make them a great yogi? As long as we continue to place our lofty ideals on the physical aspect of the practice, we will be stuck. The body can only do so much. That being said, we don’t want to ignore our temple. We want to make sure that our bodies are healthy and vibrant for decades to come. For many of my beginner students, I recommend a strict weekly program to cleanse and hone. But for you, the advanced students, this is completely unnecessary. In that we are all different, each of our practices should be different. Sure, I could lie to you and tell you that there is one specific regiment that does the trick, but it would only lead you astray. We are all dealing with different bodies and different schedules. What works for one person will almost certainly be less than optimal for the next when it comes to a yoga practice. It is time for you to begin to guide your own body. That does not mean that if you are feeling lazy, you should skip a challenging practice or that if you don’t like inversions that you should avoid them. We do not just practice the things we are good at. We challenge ourselves to have a well rounded practice. If you are not ready to turn inward and begin to trust your own guidance, then this set is not for you. Let me be clear. We are going deeper. Limiting ourselves with an inaccurate and impersonal yoga schedule will only hold us back.
As you begin to listen to your body more and guide your yoga practice, many questions will arise. How often should I practice? What style should I practice? Should I practice in the morning or the evening? Is there a body part I should be focusing on more than others? These are all questions that you should begin to answer on your own but I will give you some guidelines….
- Our bodies respond best to change. Try not to repeat the same schedule week in and week out.
- Don’t avoid challenges. Lethargy lies more in the mind than the body.
- Personalize your practice. If you have a weak center, then work on your core more. If your hips are tight, then work on those.
- Move your body in ways besides yoga. Run. Swim. Bike. Dance. Jump rope. Yoga is comprehensive but it will never be all things.
- A morning practice should be stronger than an evening practice.
- Taking a day off in your weekly asana practice is a great way to not get bored. Get outside and hike for a change.
- Embrace the change in your body. One month backbends might feel very invigorating and the next they feel overwhelming. Honor that change.
- Accept your injuries. One of the best ways to heal your body is to rest. Never push or force your way through.
- If you’ve taken time away from your practice, be gentle coming back to it. Just because you could do something a year ago doesn’t mean it’ll come right back.
- Use props. They are beneficial to the most advanced students.
- Practicing twice a day can feel amazing. It can also be overwhelming….
- Patience and persistence are two qualities that will be beneficial in sustaining longevity for your practice.
- Meditate every single day
- Enjoy your yoga. If it isn’t enjoyable, you’ll stop practicing. I promise.