This afternoon I spent some time alone up in the yoga studio.
I put on a slow playlist and carefully warmed up my body, paying attention to every little detail: my breath, the tightness in my right hamstring, the contraction of my abdominal muscles as I pushed into downward dog.
I dedicated more time and attention to each posture than I usually do. Nothing was forced. It was a soft and sweet practice, and I loved every second of it.
When I had finally warmed up, instead of pushing into more advanced poses, I sat on my heels and closed my eyes. Those few minutes alone on the floor with my breath--it was exactly what I needed. And I was thankful for that empty room.
For months and months, I couldn't even fathom having a personal practice outside of group yoga classes. I depended on my teachers to guide me through postures, and I depended on the energy of the people around me to keep me motivated.
But while I sat on the floor with my eyes closed today, I laughed at myself for having waited this long to really start a self-practice, all because I never felt "ready". Now I cherish the time spent alone on my mat. It's my daily opportunity to really check back in with my body and mind, and to consciously choose to feel love for myself. I enjoy group classes as a high energy environment where I can learn new postures and take away chunks of inspiration from each individual teacher. But it is in my self-practice where I really feel myself growing as a yoga student.
So no matter what level you're at, you're ready. Trust me.
Take some time out of each day to get on your mat (or the floor or grass or any surface). You don't need to plan a fancy yoga sequence. Just spend some time alone and feel everything wholly and deeply. Let your body tell you what it needs. Do a few sun salutations or dedicate your whole session to refining one posture. Sometimes I spend a solid 10 minutes alternating between cat-cow and child's pose because it enables me to tune in to the action of my spine.
Commit to your practice, even if it's only 10 minutes a day. It will deepen your relationship with yoga and you'll feel the effects in every area of your life: your relationships, work, food choices, all of it.
”To perform every action artfully is yoga.” - Swami Kripalu