Last week I wrote about taking on a yoga challenge (see Taking on a Yoga Challenge). As I said in that post, working on a difficult pose can help you start a home yoga practice or inspire a practice that’s starting to feel a bit stale. But, as fate would have it, the very next day after I wrote that post, taking on a yoga challenge felt like the last thing I wanted to do in my home practice. I was feeling on the anxious side, so I thought that doing poses that made me feel any stress—even in tiny amounts—was probably not such a good idea. Instead, I decided to indulge in a practice just of poses that made me feel good. Some days you need that!
I know from experience, that for me forward bends are soothing and quieting. So I decided to create a sequence that ended with seated forward bends. Usually in my forward bend practice, I warm up for the seated forward bends by doing a sequence of standing poses that stretch my hamstrings, some of which, like Standing Hand to Foot pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthanana), really challenge my balance. But on that day, I decided to eliminate the stressful poses from my sequence, and just do the standing poses that felt easy and comforting (in my case, Triangle Pose and Pyramid pose). The result? A nice relaxing sequence that felt nurturing in just the right way, for that particular day.
|Treat for the Eyes by Brad Gibson|
So how would you plan an indulgent yoga sequence? Start by thinking about which poses sound good to you today. These could be a certain class of poses (like my choice of forward bends) or they could just be any poses that sound particularly appealing, like whichever poses are your “favorites.” You could then, of course, make a list of the poses that sound appealing and sequence them according to the traditional Iyengar style of sequencing (see Iyengar-Style Sequencing, Part 1). But you know what? You could also do them in just about any order you feel like. Of course, we are usually taught to warm up for the more challenging poses and cool down afterwards, so you could think about that as you are planning your sequence (see Iyengar-Style Sequencing, Part 2). Your intuition will probably tell you not to start with the most challenging pose in the list, but on the other hand, maybe that’s exactly what you feel like doing. Experiment! On the other hand, you could also start, instead of ending, with a restorative pose. Maybe you need a good rest in Relaxation pose, Legs Up the Wall, or Reclined Cobbler’s pose before you move onto more active poses. Try it!
Go ahead. Sometimes indulging yourself in your practice is exactly the right thing to do.