By Ana Jovicic
Our bodies are slightly different every single day. How can you modify the yoga practice to meet your ever-changing needs and intentions?
If we would consciously stop to observe, we’d notice how tension and stiffness constantly vary across our body parts during the course of a day and according to seasons and environment. Subsequently, various types of stress stored in our bodies require different needs for release. In the mind of a beginner, those subtle changes are not so easily noticeable. But our bodies already know the answers we’re looking for – our minds just have to start listening to them.
To take this idea into action, imagine yourself complaining to a friend how stiff and sore your back is feeling over the past few days. You are probably rolling your shoulders back whilst you are saying this, or giving yourself a 3-seconds massage. Your body intuitively responds toward meeting that need. Personally adjusted practice simply means that you listen to your gut, set an intention to follow that first impulse, and take the time to fully satisfy your need, adjusting your movement as your needs alter throughout the practice.
As time goes by and your practice deepens, your body will become more responsive and attuned to itself. That’s when you can start the beautiful experiment of finding your fully authentic flow of yoga – the one that feels best for you. It may or may not fit into either of yoga-style categories. It will feel like a movement therapy created for you, by you.
Let your moves echo your needs
It’s not just muscle stiffness that can be released during yoga practice. Movement of your choice can induce the state of mind that you want to achieve, or give rise to attitude you want to bring in life.
Dharma Yoga may fulfil your desire to challenge yourself one day, and the next day perhaps the strength and focus required in Vinyasa may seem more suitable to your energy level. Maybe you need to relax after an exhausting day at work and the deep restorative stretches of Yin Yoga sound just perfect.
To apply that idea to the free-flow in the safety of your home, try to merge all those styles into one practice if it feels right. You may find yourself enjoying the poses that embody gracefulness and surrender. After warming up, maybe you’ll be up for more energised and powerful sequence.
Use familiar yoga poses as starting points for exploration, from which you can spontaneously unfold the upcoming movements. Following that intuitive rhythm will feel like intrinsic dancing, a moving meditation, an inner massage. You will want to come back to those juicy stretches and the flow, pulsating in your own rhythm of breathing.
Contradictory is the key
We are human beings, therefore we are full of seemingly weird opposites. Embrace these and free yourself from the „If I’m this, then I can’t be that“ talk. If you enjoy bouncing around your room to the hip hop beats and then doing a restorative yoga practice 10 minutes later whilst meditating on a fairytale you like, why not do it more often?
Yoga, just like any movement that respects your body limits, can be a form of creative and spontaneous self-expression. So be silly, play without judgement, roll around, tune into new body sensations, let go of the fear of losing balance, laugh at yourself when you topple over, don’t fight your wobbles and shudders – go with them. And when you get off your mat, try to take the same spontaneity and authenticity into your everyday life.
Photo: Izzy Dempsey Photography