Keeping Your Personal Practice on Track
Kripalu Online asked six of our favorite yoga teachers and frequent Kripalu presenters the questions, what have you found to be the challenges of maintaining a personal practice, and how do you overcome those challenges? Their answers ranged from the practical to the philosophical. We hope what they shared will inspire you to jump your own hurdles and keep spending time on the mat!
For Desirée Rumbaugh, an Anusara Yoga teacher who travels the world offering transformative workshops, being on the road means being flexible with her practice.
I make time to do my practices whenever I can, wherever I am—sometimes even choosing to meditate while sitting on an airplane, or doing an asana practice very early in the morning in a hotel room. When I have a relaxed attitude about the length and conditions of my practices, they serve me in the highest way, as my intention is to live life with fullness and joy and to remember to see the beauty and the gift that each day brings.
Aadil Palkhivala began his study of yoga with B. K. S. Iyengar at the age of seven, and he is also a federally certified naturopath, a certified Ayurvedic health science practitioner, clinical hypnotherapist, certified shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, lawyer, and internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection. How does he fit in a personal practice?
When the day starts to flow, it consumes me and I cannot do a practice at all; therefore, I practice first thing in the morning. This is true no matter where I am in the world and no matter how jet-lagged I am. Often, as the hours pass, I pause and reconnect with the Light of my Heart Center, the soul in the physical body. This keeps the yogic energy flowing throughout the day because, as Sri Aurobindo explained, “All life is yoga.”
For Tom Gillette, founder and director of the Eyes of the World Yoga Center in Providence, Rhode Island, and a master of vinyasa yoga flows, making time for a personal practice is less relevant than making his practice a part of every moment.
I do three physical practices a week, and I remain connected to ultimate reality (non-conceptualizing consciousness, Presence), all the time through continuous awareness of the rising and falling of sensation of the inner body. My mantra: “Time does not exist.” That mantra sobers me up from the dream of “my story” every time.
Angela Farmer has been teaching yoga for more than 35 years and has developed a process of “undoing” rather than “doing” yoga that invites inner dialogue with the body. She travels the world teaching her unique approach to energy and healing through yoga.
The very early morning is my time for practice and meditation. My challenge is getting enough sleep! After teaching or traveling all day, there always seem so many things that need attending to, and the nights are often cut short. I adjust by sleeping longer when we have a free day.
Getting enough sleep is also the biggest challenge for Ila Sarley, who cofounded the Natural Yoga system for self-development and coauthoredWalking Yoga and The Essentials of Yoga.
The trick for me, winter or summer, is to go to bed early enough so when the alarm goes off, I don’t feel sleep deprived and resentful about getting up. I also try to eat a modest dinner so my sleep is sound instead of fitful due to trying to digest a heavy meal. Starting my practice with a two- or three-mile walk warms my body and muscles, gets my blood flowing, settles my mind, and puts me in the mood to dive into a posture flow.
Cyndi Lee, founder of OM Yoga and a practitioner of both hatha yoga and Tibetan Buddhism, doesn’t fight her resistance to a regular practice—instead she takes it to the mat.
My obstacles to yoga are an inconsistent schedule, fatigue, and laziness. I work on those day by day. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. Remembering that yoga helps lift my energy is the antidote. So then I just get down on the floor along with my resistance, take a deep breath, and start my practice.