All That Jazz

Free-Flowin' Your Practice
by Tracey Rich

The more you riff, the more you need to have the classics down. The more you improvise, the more you need to understand the fundamentals. This is essential in great jazz, but not so in your intuitive flow.

There is nothing like the sanctity of  personal practice. From day one, our goal in teaching and sharing yoga was to encourage that. Time developing an intuitive relationship with your yoga can be transcendent. Time alone on the mat is when unique insight can strike, enlightening everything. There is no practice like a personal practice. And within that sacred space, also comes intuitive flow.

Classes are wonderful for learning important fundamentals, receiving feedback, inspiring challenge, and for the dynamic and soul food of community. It's not an either-or, though some people feel stymied when it comes to getting on the mat, home alone. You would think this is especially true when a person is a beginner, but we know long-timers that still don't have their own "home" practice. Some home practitioners have never delved beyond a streaming or online class either. Liberation is waiting on the other side. If you have shied away from deepening this relationship with your yoga, you can begin in the form of engaging in a known sequence, or with an intuitive flow.

Initiating an intuitive flow practice requires a certain amount of surrender. Letting go of having a plan or thinking you don't know what to do, is the challenge. But in fact, letting go of thinking is the trick. This is more of a listening and sensing practice. Once you tune into this awareness, choosing whether to sit or lie down becomes your biggest decision.

Follow your breath from the resonance of its sound into exploring sensation. Allow these two factors to be the guiding focus of your practice. Through listening to the feedback and whispered reflections of your breath, with no specific structure, preordained sequence, or destination, you will begin to unravel the natural inclinations of your body's desire to move.  This movement is as innate as a good yawn or a languid morning stretch when the world demands nothing of you. Following the lead of each breath to initiate any movement that wants to be expressed, including sometimes lengthy pauses and partial asanas, are part of the whole. The empty spaces of your flow, filled with the rhythms of your breath, are infinite spaces to be explored.

 Let the natural expression of asana emerge from within to deeply nurture you. Free from thoughts about how long your practice should be, which poses to do, or how perfectly aligned or balanced the asanas are, you will find innate expression unfolding with ease into a free-flowin' riff of exquisite harmony.