If you have a home asana practice, you may find that time and again you’re practicing your favorite poses. If your back is very flexible, for example, you probably include a lot of backbends. If your hips are open, it’s likely you include poses that increase that flexibility because they feel good; if you’re strong, you may include a lot of arm balances in your session.
Traditionally, the practice of yoga asanas was (and still is—in India at least) tailored to each person’s needs. We all have different bodies, live different lifestyles, and have varying levels of physical limitations and stress. The practice of yoga—asanas, breathing, and meditation—is very helpful in creating balance in both body and mind but, to do that, we need to approach our practice with a certain amount of awareness.
On the physical level, we’d do well to take note of the poses we don’t like very much since those are the ones we likely need the most. Someone with a rounded upper back and shoulders, for example, may enjoy forward bends but cringe at the thought of bending backward. But it’s practicing gentle backbends that will help them counteract their rounded posture, open the chest, enhance their breathing, and contribute to better health overall. Someone who is very flexible may need to work more on strengthening poses rather than continuing to increase their flexibility. And those who are already strong may need to spend more time stretching out tight muscles.
So notice what’s going on in your body each day you practice and be sure to include some of your least favorite poses. Be aware of your mental state as well. If you notice that you’re agitated, distracted, or depressed, spend more time doing yoga breathing and Yoga Sound Meditation. Personalizing your practice for what you need will not only help you create a balanced yoga practice but will also let you reap the greatest benefits from it.
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