The Poorly Planned Practice

Practice last night was disjointed and aimless. After cutting my time on the mat short the day before, I had intended to hit the mat early and have a long, leasurely session. The practice was long (a full two hours), but my focus was challenged, and my body was not speaking to me. I felt heavy and sluggish. I began with 10 surya namaskaras (five A and five B), which I normally flow through with a growing sense of joy and ease. Last night, however, the salutations seemed like a chore... a long, tedious chore. From there, I moved from asana to asana, trying my best to honor the vague intention I held for the day, to simply do yoga, for a long time.

This focus on the amount of time I should spend on my mat overwhelmed my practice last night. I found myself repeatedly glancing at the clock, frustrated, thinking, "it's only been 20 minutes!?" As a result, the flow was not good. I was including what seemed to be irrelevant asanas here and there to fulfill my meaningless time requirement. I could not tell what my body needed, so I just did whatever I could think of that didn't badly interrupt the sequences I was practicing. It reminded me of when I used to work out on the elliptical trainer at the gym, sweating and staring at the little red numbers, watching the minutes and seconds edge slowly closer to the glorious end (note to self: never again).

Perhaps this is a sign that I should start planning my practice better. When I first began doing yoga at home, I alternated two beginner's sequences in The Woman's Book of Yoga & Health, one being more forward bending, the other including more backbends. From there, I bought a couple of asana guides, and built on these two sequences, adding in asanas I wanted to learn. For a couple of years, I alternated these evolving sequences, and so always knew what I would be practicing on any given day. At some point, maybe a year ago, I went freeform, or more specifically, ashtanga-based vinyasa freeform. And it's been wonderful, being in tune with my body, expressing myself creatively through yoga, but maybe it's time for me to hit the books again. A clear plan might be exactly what my practice needs right now. I'm thinking about developing two distinct sequences to alternate, and perhaps incorporating a weekly "unplanned" practice, to work on new asanas, and maintain my yogic creativity.

On a side note, there's a workshop coming up at the end of the month with Ricky Tran on the Art of Floating and Flying at the studio I (infrequently) visit. I am tempted to go. Has anyone practiced with this guy? I have watched a couple of his demonstration videos, and they are awe inspiring (with cool music, too!). Any thoughts?

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