Self-Practice: It’s like Masturbating.

selfpractice

When I teach, I encourage students to move in a way that feels good: to tune in and free-form without thinking, without looking at their neighbor, without recalling what they did to warm up in their last yoga class. This can be awkward at first, especially if they’re used to sitting in a chair all day or taking direction on how to move. But once they get it, it’s wonderful: like watching kittens awaken from a nap, stretching luxuriously with eyes closed, delighting in organic movement.

While taking a workshop with Bryan Kest, he suddenly said during a particularly slow flow:

Practice like you’re making love to yourself.

Like you care. Like you want to be here. Like you’re craving sensation and your body is the most important thing in the world right now.

So, in short, your practice can be like masturbating for a whole hour. Or two. Or twenty minutes. Nice, right?

So many practitioners treat their practice like punishment, an excuse to continue the beratement and criticism that fills their heads on the regular. But your mat, your yoga, your physical practice is sacred because it is the process to getting back to your body and bringing you into the moment.

It is joyful, numinous and sensual. It is worship.

You treat your body like a new lover: curious and playful and feeling really fucking blessed to even be here to begin with.

This has nothing to do with sun salutations or downdog or handstands in the middle of the room. It could be dancing around in your underwear, going for a run, or beginning a squat challenge. All that matters is that you’re moving consciously, in a way that makes you feel strong and empowered.

In the winter, I am wildly hermetic. I begin to prefer the solitude of my personal yoga practice in my bedroom instead of a crowded class. I let my hair down and stop coordinating my yoga outfits. I put on the music I want–or practice in silence–and do the poses I crave and spend as much time as I need in them. It is sweaty and vigorous, or slow and fluid, sometimes with plank walks or glute kickbacks sprinkled in, but I always end collapsed on the earth in corpse pose feeling electric and energized.

This little ritual, which sometimes has nothing to do with yoga asana, is what nourishes my relationship with my body. It makes me marvel in how strong my body is, the things it can do and feel and experience. How can I not feel connected and in love when I’m utterly awestruck?

So how do you fall in love the way you move?

Stay fiercely committed to your practice by being soft

How do you feel like moving today? What’s gonna make you feel exquisite? If you don’t feel like doing a single yoga pose, don’t. Try an HIIT or sculpting moves or Nia or just put on good music and move. Or lay face down on the ground for an hour. Whatever’s calling to you, do it.

Treat your body like someone you’ve got the hots for

Be sweet and kind, and find out what she’s into. Long walks? Short runs? Coffee in the morning or chocolate midafternoon? Mani-pedis or bodywork? Does she need to head to be an hour earlier tonight to feel rested tomorrow? Be curious and notice what you need and when. Spoil yourself and hold yourself accountable for your own wellness. Take care of your bod like she’s transcendently precious, because she totally is.

Get fascinated

One of the most apt cues I’ve heard from a teacher: Let your body receive breath of its own accord. Woah! When you get out of the way, your body breathes how it needs to, and all you’ve gotta do is pay attention like it’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever witnessed. Move like you’re new, like every stretch and muscle movement is something you’ve never experienced before. Exploratory and entranced. This gets your mind completely present and allows all the chatter fall to the wayside while cultivating gratitude. Our bodies are amazing.

Oh, and listen to good music. I made this just for you:

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