I like to practice yoga at my own pace. I like holding some postures longer than others. I like repeating a posture that I am struggling with (mulabandhasana, anyone?). I like slowing my breath down.
When I take someone else’s class, I have to practice according to the teacher’s pace. I may only get a few breaths in every posture, especially if my breathing pace is slower than the teacher’s directions. I may have to breath faster to keep up.
In short, I end up in the passenger seat of my practice, instead of the driver’s seat.
I like being in the driver’s seat.
When I practice in a Mysore format, I like the silence, the quiet determination of each student as they work through the series. I like the unspoken camaraderie of practicing in a group at the early hours of the morning. When I practice in the morning, I know that I will have gotten my practice in. I will have accomplished something that day, something for my own sanity, my own peace of mind, my own health. No one is going to interrupt my practice with a meeting, a phone call, or a project.
This is the same reason I love writing morning journals. It is time for myself, to get myself settled mentally and prepared for what the day will bring. No one can predict what the day will bring. Most of the things that happen to us are beyond our control.
But, if I make the commitment to practice in the morning, I will have exercised my choice and my discipline. And as retired Navy SEAL and author Jocko Wilink says, “Discipline equals freedom.”
When I practice in the morning, I’ll have taken care of my own health first so that I can take care of others. I can be a Jedi Knight, learning how to increase kindness, mindfulness, and compassion when interacting with others.
I can learn to feel the Force when I practice in Mysore. I get to unlearn all of the things that hold me back.
You will never progress as far in a led class as you will in self-practice. Why? Because you are not in control of your time, you are not in control of how much of the sequence you are doing, and despite what some teachers may say, you are never going to get any truly individualzed attention from the teacher. I’ve taught for over 17 years. The most progress I’ve seen in a student’s practice (and in my own) is in a self-practice format, practicing at least three to five times a week.
In self-practice, the student takes control of her own practice and makes it her own. She’s not doing someone else’s practice, even if it is someone else’s sequence. She’s doing her own yoga.
So I challenge you to try the morning mysore program I teach at Yoga District. If you say you learned about it thru this blog, I will comp your first class.
Stay grounded, stay committed.
Make progress one millimeter, one breath, at a time.
May the Force be with you.