DAY 10. (read to the end for your challenge today)
Starting self-practice isn’t always easy, but once you have developed the confidence to make the transition from yoga in a class to yoga at home, you have passed a major milestone. Everybody will come across some difficulties in their yoga practice, but as you work though them, they form part of your learning experience. It can be helpful to be aware of some of the common problems you might encounter during self-practice.
1. Feelings of Ambition
Once you have begun to master the postures in your self-practice, beware of excessive pride or ambition in performing them. It is the process of practicing, rather than the attainment of a “perfect” pose, which is important. In yoga it is important to cultivate the ability to do things without undue attachment to the end results.
Yoga does require detailed self-analysis, but this is very different from demoralizing self-criticism. It is common to feel you are not making progress fast enough, practicing long enough or regularly enough, or simply that you are not “very” good at the postures. This is inverted ambition. Remember, yoga is not about success or failure, but about personal development.
3. Powerful emotions
Our mind and our bodies are so intimately related that it is possible for emotions to be diverted from the mind and stored physically in the body. This is a useful coping mechanism in the short term, but over a long period of time it can become debilitating. Yoga helps to free stored emotions by opening channels that connect the mind and spirit with the physical body. You may experience dramatic emotions during or after performing postures or breathing exercise. Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself temporarily tearful, angry, frightened or even gloriously happy. This marks the letting go of emotions that may have been building up over a lifetime.
4. Pain and discomfort
Generally speaking, it is not good to be in pain. Joint pain or any sharp pain that makes you wince and pull away from a posture is usually a signal to stop. The cause may be emotional or physical – as we discussed, the two are closely related. If you experience pain, be careful and exit the posture slowly. You should modify your practice accordingly.
Very common, but less worrying, is muscular discomfort that occurs when you deepen into a posture. This should be embraced and moved with rather than resisted. The working loose of muscular tension is ultimately a healing process.
Finally, try to exist “in the moment” during your self-practice. Don’t distract yourself by wishing your body was different or by remembering how it used to be. It is only by understanding your current experience that you can hope to progress. This is santosa (contentment) – try to practice it in all areas of life.
Day 10 challenge:
Let us know if you’ve ever experiences any of the problems mentioned in this blog (which ones) and if not, which ones you anticipate may be trickier for you. Share in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.
Tomorrow, we start looking at postures!