The own Yoga routine is a topic that comes up as soon as you want to dive deeper into Yoga and start to get more independent from your teachers.
Your teachers know themselves and Yoga very well, and they also get to know you and your body during the classes. But in the end, you are better off knowing yourself best and for that , you will have to observe yourself (Swadhyaya) and see what works for you. This is a never ending process and you will get to know your personality and individual needs.
Having been very interested in meditation and its effects for long, I started my home practice with a strict meditation routine, two 20 minute sessions daily, in the morning and evening. I was curious to see if the benefits I heard about would work for me as well.
A few weeks later, I started my teacher training and my Yoga teacher talked about the importance of an own daily Yoga routine for Yoga teachers. My monkey mind converted this information into a strict order for me to develop a better and more intense practice, including Asana and Pranayama, judging my previous practice as not being good enough.
This was the point where I started to struggle and didn’t feel comfortable anymore. My mind changed my beloved meditation practice into a serious challenge full of expectations. It took me a while to realize how exhausting and dangerous this new practice was. Exhausting because having ideas of specific asanas in my mind, I forgot the most important thing – connecting and listening to my body. And dangerous, because this is when you can seriously hurt yourself. I was lucky that I became aware of what I was doing before I got injured.
My way back to a Yoga practice that energized me was to make connecting to my heart the basis of my practice.
And my heart told me very clearly that I shouldn’t abuse my practice for my Ego issues. You are not good enough, you have to practice more/harder/longer, and so on. The Ego can get brutal, mean and unforgiving.
So for a while, I didn’t set any timer for meditation and started my mornings with my out-of-the-box Yoga routine. I just opened the window, started deepening and connecting to my breath for a few moments. And then I took more time than usual to prepare myself a good healthy breakfast and a fresh cup of tea. Taking lots of time to drink it very consciously – as if it was the first time I ever had tea.
This was it. No monkey mind interfering, telling me that I or my practice isn’t good enough. Non-violence (Ahimsa) isn’t always that easy, but whenever I feel now that wrong reasons for practicing a certain asana or extending the length of my meditation come up, I get back to the core of Yoga:
Yogas citta vritti nirodhah. (Yoga Sutra Patanjali 1.2)
Yoga is calming the mind.