Practicing Yoga by yourself is a very different experience than practicing in a group. Whether you make the financial investment to work privately with a teacher to develop a personalized practice or you confidently launch into one you craft yourself, recognize that you are doing something special and something that’s different than what occurs in a led group class.
Practitioners’ Responsibilities: In a personal practice, many of the responsibilities that fall to the group class teacher become the practitioner’s concern to:
- select an intention for the practice,
- develop a strategy for realizing it,
- choose the elements for the practice (among and including body practices, breathing practices, attention practices) that will support that strategy,
- create the sequencing of those elements,
- make decisions re: the sensual environment for the practice (eg, music or not, lighting or not, incense or not, etc.),
- keep track of the time,
- keep track of her/his attention,
- practice those techniques, and
- remain open to surprises, broken expectations, new directions and unintended learning/teaching opportunities.
One of the great benefits – and one of the bigger challenges – that comes from creating a personalized practice is that you get to shape your expectations of ‘what’ a Yoga practice ought to be.
It doesn’t have to be 60, 75 or 90 minutes long just because that’s the typical length of a group class.
It doesn’t have to follow the structure of a group class. You could work on one posture, you could work on 50. You could do pranayama practices the whole time. Or chant. Or meditate, then write, then move, then write, then chant, then write. It could look exactly like what your best friend, mentor and favorite Yoga teacher prescribes. Or it could look nothing like it – and not at all reflect poorly on your relationship with your best friend, mentor and favorite Yoga teacher
Sequencing can be taught. Techniques can be taught. Perspectives regarding the use of music or incense or where in the house one might practice, etc. are easily debated.
The biggest leap a practitioner often needs to make is the one we might caption “I’m allowed” and that’s a barrier that must be overcome internally.