In relation to yoga and healing, self-practice is simply being on your mat and intuitively travelling whatever it is you need to travel. Whether it is breath, movement, and/or meditation practised on a daily basis to stay really aligned, healthy, and happy in your everyday life.
However, it goes a little deeper than just yoga. You can bring it off the mat and look at it from a point of relationships. In other words, what relationships do you have with your daily rituals or habits?
What Are Some Examples of Self Practice?
What relationship do you have with coffee? If you wake up and have a cup of coffee every morning, you have a relationship or self-practice with that cup of coffee.
What does your mind think when you have that coffee? Are you in a good relationship with it or is there some part of you that says you shouldn’t be having a cup of coffee because it’s a stimulant? Or, do you just love coffee and enjoy making it? Do you look forward to it and take a lot of care and effort to make it exactly how you want it. Are you in a healthy relationship with your coffee?
It’s no different in a sense with yoga. You can get up and feel stiff and sore and like “Why am I doing this?” You may be in resistance as you practice. This would be creating an unhealthy habit. Or, you can get up and be grateful you’re there and intuitively feel into your body. Being with yourself without judgement and therefore creating a healthy relationship.
Does Self-practice Differ From Person to Person in Relation to Yoga?
The most common way we get introduced to yoga is to go to classes. However, my personal opinion is one doesn’t really form a strong relationship with yoga or self-healing until we are confident enough and sure enough of ourselves to lead our own practice. This is where the self-practice begins.
Self-practice is different with everyone. However, once you have developed your relationship with yoga to be able to come to your mat to work through something, or better yet as a maintenance-like thing you do every day so you don’t have to work through something, your self-practice will be a beautiful self-sustaining one.
What is Your Self-practice Routine? Is It Something You Do on a Daily Basis?
To be honest, my self-practice has always been changing and evolving. I’ve been doing yoga for 20 years now. The first 7-8 years it was very in and out, but the last 12-13 years it has become very regular and a part of my daily routine.
Since we now have a 9-month old daughter my daily practice has shifted somewhat. I still commit to self-practice daily. However, I used to wake up and it was the very first thing I did. Now, my daughter wakes up early so my self-practice at that time has been replaced with time with her. Reflecting on that time thus far I can say it offers me far more than any self-practice ever has.
Being in a relationship with Amazon is my number one and in return, I am in constant received from her.
So, now my practice on the mat has been more sporadic. It’s still daily, but it’s not as regimented and in reality, I probably don’t practice as long. Sometimes I get the chance to practice for nearly 2 hours but not as often so it is far more quality than quantity. Being a naturally regimented person I believe Amazon entered at the perfect moment to help me see I no longer need to be so, at least in the area of my daily yoga practice.
At present, my ability to connect and tune in is happening with more ease, more often than not. So currently I am not as focused on how long I practice for, rather how intimately connected in with the reality of my emotions, energy, mind and physical body I can be.
Is Self-practice a Part of Who We Are and What We Were Brought Into the World to Do?
Absolutely. Like I was saying, you can have a relationship with coffee or you can go out with your friends and have that relationship with them. Self-practice is just two words to describe being more connected with what we choose to do with our time.
It’s said that the practice of yoga is something we’re born with, but we forget it over time as we grow into an adult. I only need to observe my daughter Amazon and watch how often she is intuitively making shapes with her body, explores her range of movement, visibly connects inward with how she feels to understand there is some truth to this.
Think about it. Why do people love babies? It’s because they’re so innocent and pure. They just express themselves. They don’t think about how they’re going to be viewed. I’m really experiencing that with my daughter now, she just is! She’s my biggest teacher at the moment.
Is There Any Definitive Timing on How Often Someone Should Self-practice?
For a self-practice to be really powerful, it needs to happen every day. There aren’t necessarily any strict limits on how long it should be or how it should look. The more you turn up for yourself daily, the more mind made beliefs of how you should act or practice fall away, and how you need to move or sit with yourself becomes more intuitive. That is not to discredit a certain style or set of movements as a great place to begin until that inner intuition shines though.
We all have to start somewhere.
While in the beginning the longer a self-practice is the better, it’s only relevant to each person and the time it takes for them to connect. You can go through the motions and have a ritual of self-practice every morning, but to have it be spiritual, you have to offer yourself the spirit. In other words, you have to be fully present while you’re there. 5 minutes being fully present with yourself is far more powerful than an hour going through the motions. However, both are necessary at times. It may take some time to cultivate the inward ability to connect.
You can go to your mat and go through a certain sequence of postures or breathing, but if you’re thinking about something else and aren’t truly there while you do it, you’re just going through the motions. You’re not really connecting. This would be considered a reality in the beginning I believe and one needs to recognise this and offer it forgiveness. Being aware of your own state and realising you’re not always fully present when you practice and making peace with that when you feel it, is a beautiful step and a necessary one.
What’s the Difference Between Self-practice and Routine or Discipline?
Something we like to talk about a lot is a spiritual discipline. Spiritual discipline is the natural way of holding yourself accountable to offer yourself what you need to stay in harmony, inside and out.
This doesn’t need to be viewed in a stereotypical way. It doesn’t need to be a time restriction or even coming to a yoga mat. There are many pathways to find inner alignment. As my beautiful partner, Randy often puts it “ there are over 7 billion people in the world, there is at least that many pathways”.
You may find that inner harmony on a yoga mat, you may find it walking your dog on the beach, playing with your child, reading a book, painting, creating. The possibilities are endless really. Wherever you truly feel the love in your life when you do something is a perfect place to begin to understand your unique process of spiritual discipline. However, if you are unable to be aware of where this takes place for you, you’ll need to take some steps.
Spiritual discipline is different for everyone, it is internal and always in motion and simply needs us to honour it, connect in with its essence and communicate it into all areas of our life. We don’t create spiritual discipline, we tune in to listen to it, as it is what is constantly creating us.
The super-powerful thing is recognising what works for you. If you really have no idea then forming a relationship with yoga or another modality that promotes self-healing is a beautiful place to begin. There are so many ways to hold yourself accountable, to offer yourself time for self-healing, and for your relationship with yourself to really strengthen and not get lost in the noise of your daily life.
Is Self-practice Something You Can Do With Someone Else?
The last tier of self-practice is relationships. When you’re in a relationship with other people, it’s more difficult to offer yourself time for self-practice, and it can be hard to give them the quality time they need to self-practice and heal as well.
Like self-practice with yoga, you can go through the motions in a relationship. You can be there but not really be listening. You can be there but not really be communicating honestly. Self-practice really helps with being honest, accountable, compassionate, and loving with yourself and therefore flows into your relationships.
That said, self-practice is important for self-reflection and achieving true happiness. It allows us to look within ourselves and ask:
- Are we part-taking in a healthy job that is serving us?
- Are we living our cosmic energy out here on Earth?
- Are we putting our energy into the things we value the most? Into the right relationships? Into the conscious ways to create money? Into loving ways to be kind to our family, friends, and others in our lives?
It’s being in a true relationship with yourself and blocking out the noise and listening to your intuition. It is this intuition, that then rises to the surface and enlightens you to what is in alignment for you to be choosing and actioning. Checking and feeling into this daily helps keep us on track and moving in the healthiest direction.
If we can find that inner alignment we are going to be in a much better position to enter into a relationship with another.
Is Self-practice More Important Than Taking or Going to Yoga Classes?
In my personal opinion, self-practice is far more important than going to classes. Classes are great to get someone else’s perspective, but you’re getting led by somebody else.
You can feel a really great level of community and togetherness when you go to a class, and sometimes it’s really nice to be led and not have to tap into that intuition to see the next step for you whether it’s on or off your mat. Of course, it’s totally fine to be learning about practice in the first place by taking a class. These days we have all the information we need on the internet so you can learn any and all aspects of yoga or just about anything for that matter if you want to [of course constant application is required]
However, when you step into the realm of self-practice, it becomes far more important than going to classes. Going to classes becomes secondary.
We’re big believers in empowering people to understand they don’t have to know a lot about yoga before they trust themselves to self-practice because self-practice is truly being with yourself. We are all here to help and assist each other but self-practice can only be understood by the individual once applied over and over. We’ve collectively forgotten we don’t need guidance to attend to this.
Is There a Definitive Period of Time It Takes Someone Practising Self-practice to Truly See Themselves Clearly and Interact With the World?
It’s really personal to everyone, but the more you self-practice, the sooner this will happen. For person A, it might be months. For person B, it might be years. However, the sooner you feel comfortable to start to do, the sooner you’ll understand your way, your process. Once you find that you’ll always have somewhere to visit [again hopefully daily] if you feel any sort of misalignment.
If you want to do some sort of profession but don’t put any effort into it, you’re never going to be skilled or qualified enough to do it. You need to take the steps to become skilled in that field. The same goes with self-practice and being skilled in feeling yourself through everything that you choose and participate in.
Self-practice is just the practice of the self, so to become skilled with yourself and in relationship with who you truly are and what you really want, you’ve got to put the time and energy into it.
Is There Any Relationship Between Pain and Self-practice or Self-discovery?
Probably yes, because when you look inside your physical body if you’ve never done yoga before, you’re going to get into some positions that feel uncomfortable. That’s the reality when you first begin it.
So, when you do self-practice, you may find some level of pain. It doesn’t have to be extreme and it doesn’t have to be viewed as a negative thing. Pain can be the most beautiful teacher. I think as a society we don’t give pain enough acknowledgement. If you bang your finger in the door, you go “Ouch, that hurt” and then you move on. Never considering the possibility that the energy of what just happened could get stored in the finger and affect us as a whole.
There are all different types of pain. I got hit by a car when I was 14. It was quite a traumatic accident and I had a lot of healing to do from that, which brought me to yoga. So, it was pain that actually showed me the way to heal myself. At the time it appeared to be a terrible thing that only affected me in a negative way but over time I’ve been able to make peace with the event and be grateful for what it showed me.
What My Daily Self-practice and What It Consists of
At the moment my self-practice is really focused around breathing. Simply lying on my mat and deeply breathing into every area of my body. Literally visualizing my breath travelling all the way down to my toes. Specifically focussing on organs, bones, joints, emotions, energy as I breathe. I usually attach a mantra to my inhale and exhale. Something simple like “I am healing” or breathing in “love” and breathing out “pain and unwanted energy”. This usually leads to some movement and my breath intuitively guides me how I need to move and which parts of my internal world require my attention.
The beautiful realisation is it can be different every day. We are always in constant flux so what we require in any one moment varies.
I began self-practising with a more physical, stronger style of yoga with lots of standing postures, sun salutations, and breathing. While all of these are great and I still practice this way occasionally, most of the time now I literally just lie on my mat and go through a few different styles of breathing to see how I feel.
As a result, my physical body has actually become far more flexible than it ever was with constant physical practice. That’s just my story and process, it might be slightly, or completely different for someone else. Furthermore, I need to stay in constant listening to be open to how my self-practice will shift and change as I do.
Is There Such a Thing as Negative Self-practice, Such as Telling Yourself You’re Not Flexible?
If you think you are stiff, then you will be stiff. Your own abilities or present state is at least somewhat due to your thoughts and what you put out into the world.
That said, there are different body shapes and types. A physiotherapist can give you a flexibility test based on a 1-10 scale to test the flexibility in your joints, ligaments, and cartilage. These aren’t as easy to affect as muscle.
You can stretch a muscle and make it very flexible. If someone has very flexible joints, they’ll score a 10 on the flexibility test.
When I took the test, I scored a 1. So, I wasn’t very flexible when it came to yoga. Now, however, I’m quite flexible, at least for me. Not compared to someone who we could view as a “flexi”, but for me and my body, I’m the most flexible in my physical body I’ve ever been and I’m 38.
I don’t really care about being flexible anymore. I care about feeling healed in my body and being pain-free. Noticing the flexibility in my own physical body improve is simply a beautiful byproduct.
I had a really bad injury to my right leg and right side. All of the “experts” told me my body would deteriorate and I wouldn’t be able to surf or do this, and that as I got older. That, however, hasn’t been my reality. I’ve managed to become my own expert, specializing in ME. The essence of that understanding is what I am most passionate about sharing with and empowering others to tap into.
However, it took some time to shift my mind from the “I’m stiff” or “I have this injury” mindset to be able to push through that and allow my physical body to receive something new.
The key is healthy relationships. We get people in our courses who have a bad relationship with exercise which I totally have compassion for.
When I was younger, I was trying to become a professional surfer. I was pretty good but I never really made much money from it. Whether from my injury or not, I was just below the level of the successful surfers, so my relationship with surfing became an unhealthy one. I became attached to the idea if I didn’t succeed at surfing I was a failure. This made my time in the water surfing, an unhealthy time.
Once I let go of that idea and realised competitive surfing wasn’t for me [furthermore definitely did not define me] I was able to reestablish a healthy relationship with surfing. A beautiful relationship that continues to this day and just as important a self-practice as yoga.
It’s crazy how in different stages of our life, depending on our perspective and how we view something, we can create a healthy or unhealthy relationship. I’m really grateful for surfing and the ocean for teaching me that.
Whether it’s surfing, yoga or whatever it is that brings you into the moment, the key is to do it for you and because you love it, not for an end result.
Self-practice Can Have a Positive Effect on Your Relationships
Personally, self-practice has had a huge positive impact on my relationship with myself, Randy, and the travellers we receive at ITSA Life and Abode Yoga.
My self-practice has really helped me understand who I am, what I want out of life, and the relationships I deserve. It has also shifted a lot of relationships around me.
I was really strong with my self-practice before Randy and I got together, and it has helped me understand how to treat others and be treated in a relationship.
To some extent, it even helped me find Randy. There’s some destiny or karmic energy to our relationship. We have very similar beliefs. She helps me with my self-practice and I help her with hers.
She can be very flighty and sometimes she needs grounding, which I naturally help her with. Conversely, I can be very regimented and get stuck in a routine, this is where Randy helps me with her natural creative free-flowing nature.
Does Self-practice Make It Easier for People to Know What to Put Their Time and Energy Into?
For sure, 100 per cent it does.
Even if you just look at self-practice itself, you might struggle for a day, a week, a month, or even a year to know what to do when you come to your mat. However, after a while, you just know what to do.
At first, you’re following an idea of what you should do when you come to your mat and do yoga, but the more you do it, the more intuitive it becomes. This hopefully after some times translates into your everyday.
Does Regulation Tie Into Self-practice?
“Regular” is the word that’s important, because if you come to yourself often, then even without placing a ton of focus on it, you’re going to become very regulated.
Your energy is regular. Your emotions are regulated. Your mind is very even and calm, and your physical body is very aligned, strong, and healthy.
My Wish for My Daughter, Amazon, and Her Self-practice
Right now Amazon lives her life in self-practice, you know, she does whatever she wants. However, as she grows, I want her to stay intuitive.
I just hope Randy and I can let her grow naturally and help her with communication. Always being honest and open with her.
I really don’t care if she never practices yoga a day in her life. It’s not important for me at all. It would only be if she needed that physical, emotional, or mental practice to become more centred. As I mentioned earlier she already intuitively moves and taps into herself whenever she needs, so maybe she already does have a self-practice. Right now she already loves coming in the ocean with me daily so I feel she’s already developed a relationship with the ocean that will continue also.
Want to Truly Discover Self-practice? Take the First Step
If you want to truly discover the art of self-practice, you can always come to do a course with us!
Our courses are intimate with 8 people maximum. We focus on self-healing and developing a relationship with yoga, reiki and other healing pathways that you can always access for the rest of your beautiful life. As you travel with us you may even be called to share this self-healing forward. We strongly believe in empowering others to value what they have been able to travel within and feel confident to hold the space for others to do the same. Empowering a relationship with a self-practice is what we guarantee. For some, it may be a way to stay centred in their lives after they leave us, for others, it may be the beginning of sharing their findings with others.
Self-practice, heal, share forward, allow others. That’s what we believe at ITSA Life.