There is more than one way to practice yoga. I try to look beyond the physical poses and recognize that a daily practice doesn’t have to meet any kind of time, style or even place requirement. Especially now that I’m practicing from home, my daily yoga practice rarely looks the same way each day. Every body, every mind and every day requires something a little different to find presence and ease. Luckily, the teachings of yoga are broad and fluid in the ways that students may explore different approaches to their practice! I hope to highlight my favorites and inspire you to develop your own unique practice.
To give you an idea: today I came to my mat and did a bit of journaling. Then, while listening to some calming mantras, I stretched and did some breathing. I finished my practice with a few oms and felt ready for the day. Yesterday, for a comparison, I simply took a few restorative yoga shapes and listened to a short guided meditation. Tomorrow, perhaps I’ll chant a bit before doing a yoga nidra session. And, once a week, I try to gift myself a nice long virtual class.
What I find most wonderful about practicing in this more open way is that I have to listen. I have to tune into my body and mind to find what would be nourishing for that day. I relish the freedom to create unique combinations of my favorite practices for balance and awakening. I move and breathe, I journal and read, and most days I chant and meditate. This is all yoga! As long as the practice brings a sense of presence and ease into your day, do it your way. Remember that there are several branches or approaches to yoga that students may explore for inspiration.
I have to listen. I have to tune into my body and mind to find what would be nourishing for that day.
One of my favorite ways to begin the day is inspired by bhakti (devotional) yoga. I chant a few oms, sing a mantra or just take some big sighs. It feels so good to get some vibrations moving through me. It breaks up the tension in the body and warms up the vocal cords. I think of it as a way to express myself freely, subtly connect to the world around me, and surrender to the flow, force or greater power.
Hatha yoga is the most well-known and widely practiced branch of yoga. Involving the physical practice of poses and breathing techniques, hatha aims to balance, strengthen and revitalize the body and mind. There are many styles of movement, though. I often begin my mornings with restorative yoga to ease myself into the day since I don’t always feel supported by a full vinyasa flow sequence.
My focus on meditation is inspired by raja (royal) yoga and the eight limb path. Plus, jnana (knowledge) yoga influences my drive to study, to reflect and contemplate more deeply. Yoga doesn’t have to stay on your mat though. Karma, the yoga of action and service, encourages me to do my practice through acts of kindness — like baking a few extra loaves of bread for my neighbors. And tantra is more than just connecting more intimately with myself and my partner; this yoga lets me practice through life itself. I experience the smell, the feel and the taste of my morning cup of tea. I see the light and beauty on my walks around the block.
Yoga, this practice of uniting with the moment and being content, can be approached in many different ways.
You can begin by releasing your expectations of what your daily yoga practice should look, sound or feel like. Ask yourself, “What truly feels nourishing and supportive to me?” Then, show up for yourself and continue to ask, “What do I need today?”
Forcing ourselves to do the same thing every day is unsustainable. Diversifying the support we offer ourselves is not only fun, but it is also deeply healing and inspiring. The different approaches to yoga emphasize specific elements of yoga, but the branches are all part of the same tree. When integrating different approaches, one’s daily yoga practice becomes a unique and creative process of self-discovery.
Photo by Wren Schuyler.
Wren Schuyler is a mindful creative: restorative yoga and meditation guide (CYT 500), freelance writer and artist. She inspires and leads by example. Passionate about mental clarity, physical wellness, slow & green living, and authentic self-expression, Wren creates to bring joy into this world. You can join her for restorative yoga practices on youtube — wren’s mindfulnest. Wren loves tea and podcasts. She is sure to be cozy at home in Colorado.