Evening practice

It's 23.30, my practice tonight started an hour ago and ends after I finish writing this entry. Because this blog has become part of my practice, my nod to discipline.
My Hatha yoga practice has become boundless in many ways. Discipline is no longer captain, and love has instead stepped in to claim that post. I've fallen in love with yoga and that's enough incentive to keep me here.
My practice is based in open awareness. It's anchored in breath, it's expression is the body but that's pretty much all it has in common with the practice that gave birth to yoga in me. It's interesting. I started, very much thinking that I needed a routine, a strict schedule and a plan to follow. To kind of compensate for my chaotic, irreverent nature I suppose. At some point I got tired of fighting myself and instead let my nature create and conduct my way of practicing. Allowing it to serve me. Irreverence allowed me to step out of the system and bring yoga to who I am instead of trying to become the yogi that I thought I was supposed to be, and that kind adjustment allowed me to connect with the chaos inside, experiment with different ways of arranging it and eventually becoming friends with it.

I start by placing the soles of my feet together and fall slowly in to a butterfly, yin style. I have a tendency to tense my belly so I soften it with a couple of considerate breaths, encourage it to move and then transfer attention to my hips and spend some time there, most things alignment can be traced down to the hips so it's a fascinating place to investigate. The breath my faithful assistant and guide penetrates areas that feel tight and slowly allows the muscle around them to relax. I have discovered that while doing yin a light harnessing of the energy in the root lock is extremely helpful, gently steering the spine by anchoring it around the tail so that the back can rest it's full weight in gravity. The hips are a big complex area and need attention from all angles so I slowly rise up to a forward bend, letting the torso drop to the floor while the pelvis rises up to the ceiling. I keep revisiting my jaws, have since early puberty ground my teeth, so relaxing and learning to stay soft in the jaw is essential if I don't want to end up having a headache. We all have areas where we subconsciously defend ourselves from discomfort. This defense is a futile one, since it's intention to protect the mind from the discomfort experienced, only brings about more tension and subsequently more discomfort. For some it's the belly, for some the shoulders and many just like me have an army of soldiers placed in their jaws. I have given up trying to dismantle my soldiers, it feels more useful to instead be aware of their presence and put them' at ease' whenever I can, to fight them and their history of protective duty doesn't work, they are present and perhaps one day they will be retired but for now I just try to relieve them of duty as often as I can. When the hips and back are a bit more open I turn my attention to my organs, and the most efficient way I have of addressing them are twists, so I lay down, spend many minutes on each side, directing awareness and breath towards my spleen and kindneys, shifting between engaging and releasing the root lock to stabilize the spine, I finish the session with a long backbend to free up the area around my heart then take a long savasana to fully digest the practice.

This was practice, 4-5 positions with a long time spent in all of them. Vastly different from where I started out. Practice has matured in me and I have matured because of it
I have spoken with so many students that find it difficult to practice by themselves, and most of them feel intimidated by doing their own program, so unless they are Ashtangis, they feel that they need to have a video or an app to lead them.
I want to encourage yogis of all styles and circumstance to find your own voice, and find out who you are in yoga, not who you have to be in order to do yoga, not to skip class and bypass the wisdom of teachers, but to also cultivate curiosity for your contribution to this endless possibility that is yoga. It's a human practice that keeps evolving as we humans evolve so why shouldn't you take part in your own evolution.

I'm excited to see what practice will be tomorrow...


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