From Song of Myself by Whitman
The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread,
crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the
passing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and
dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the
eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the
fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising
from bed and meeting the sun.

The gift of not knowing: How to practice at homeStudent: “Kelly, do you have any video recommendations for me while I travel this summer so I can keep up with my practice?”

Me: “Yes, and I really want to encourage you to practice without guidance too.”

Student: “Um Yeah, but…I don’t know what to do!! It won’t be as good. I’m no expert!”

I have this conversation often. Does it sound familiar to you? Let me ask you something. Do you practice yoga at a studio at least twice a week on a regular basis? If yes, then no matter how brilliant your teacher is, you are not only capable of practicing on your own, you owe it to yourself to do it. Home practice isn’t talked about or encouraged nearly enough these days. It is an absoultely pivotal aspect of the practice of yoga. Now, like I said, there are good online sources for classes you can follow along with but that is not what I’m talking about at all.

Home practice is a time when you can do that thing that every teacher tells you to do then doesn’t really want you to do in their class because it would be bedlam. It is a time to deeply listen to your body.

Most of us wash up on the shores of drop in yoga with a very large gulf between awareness and the felt experience of the body and what we percieve as self in our minds. The common response I get when I ask people how they feel:

1. I’m tired
2. This hurts
3. I’m fine

4. Meh, I feel good…

You will never be able to make good choices for yourself until you get that conversation going. Until then, listen to your body is merely yoga speak for don’t blame me if you hurt yourself.

Your body has so much more wisdom to communicate with you than “Hey, its time to poop!”  It takes time,  practice, and silence….a lot of silence. It also requires that perfect quality that everyone thinks is a problem. The feeling that you don’t know what to do or how to do it right is called the practice of not knowing. It is where you want to be. Surprise!! Your excuse is actually your invitation into a deep and miraculous unfolding.

It isn’t hard or scary to begin. Here are the steps:

1. Put down a yoga mat or just lay down or just stand there or whatever…you really don’t need anything in particular. I prefer to start on my back with my knees bent and my hands on my belly, but here is the beauty, you can do anything you want.

2. Be still and wait…close your eyes and listen to the breath and wait until some desire to move or curiosity arises. Starting small is best (in my experience).

3. Follow that curiosity. If you need to, set a timer for 10 minutes and move around or lay there for 10 minutes. Pick 3 poses you like (or don’t like) and try them. Try them in different ways. In this kind of practice, less agenda is better. This isn’t the “Master your Handstand” home practice we are talking about.

4. Close your practice with a bow to the deep wisdom that you are inviting to rise and then get on with your day. It is that easy.