Why Personalize? The hard truth there is no one right way.

If you have been in my classes you are probably used to hearing lots of options for how you might practice, and invitations to personalize your practice. You may have even asked me, as often happens, what is the “right” way to do a posture or practice.

There was a time earlier on in my yoga journey that I would have offered up a more definitive answer to that type of question. Now my answer will likely either be “it depends” or if we have the time to discuss I will inquire about how various ways of doing it feel in your experience and from there I will try to help guide you to finding the right way for you.

I know and understand that many yoga students would love nothing more than for a teacher to simply tell them what to do, and specifically to tell them the “right” way to do the practice. I get it, and I have been there as a student as well.

Over time though I realized sometimes I was doing things in my yoga practice, under the guidance of a teacher telling me it was the right way, that was leading sometimes to feelings of unease, immediate pain, or pain following the practice. This is never the intention of yoga, after all the number one guiding rule of yoga is to do no harm.

So why practice in a way that doesn’t meet with the intention of yoga? 

My practice shifted dramatically when I came to understand and accept there is no one “right” way. Our bodies are all structurally different, right? My body as a 43 year old American woman is different from that of any other 43 year old woman, and is different now as compared to when I began practicing yoga in my 20s and I expect it will continue to change as I practice into older years.

Of course it not only about our physical bodies either, what we need energetically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually can also shift minute by minute, day to day, and year by year.

Personalizing your practice is the best way to advance your practice and to realize the greatest benefits while minimizing any risk of injury.

So how do you personalize your practice?

  1. Be clear on your intention for your practice – there may be one overarching intention, and then there may be a more specific intention each time you come to your mat.
  2. Be aware of the affects of what you do in your practice and notice what brings you closer to your intention and what takes you further away.
  3. Experiment with small shifts and play around to see where your edges are – it is good to challenge ourselves at times and it is also good to nurture ourselves at times.
  4. Align the way you practice with your intention – the more awareness you are able to cultivate in your practice, the easier this will become.

When joining in Whole Soul classes, please always feel free to personalize during class and play around with different options. The Personalizing Postures class is a guided opportunity to do this work in a group with some opportunities to interact.

Working one on one with a yoga therapist or an experienced yoga teacher can also be a really great way to personalize your practice and be sure that the way you are practicing is supporting your progress towards your own personal intentions.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions, or if you would like to explore working one on one. I would love to hear from you!

Jaime (jaimeboswell@live.com)