*This is the second part of a 2-part series. Find part 1 here.
My home practice evolved slowly for the first couple of years. I practiced a series of poses nearly every day, gradually incorporating new asanas as I moved along and learning to follow the breath. But the two actions seemed disconnected. The practice was fragmented. It lacked grace and flow. It lacked the meditative quality I needed from the practice.
Enter the vinyasa, via the calm, encouraging voice of Adi Amar at Yoga Today. I found Yoga Today and promptly subscribed in June of 2009. This was a major turning point for my practice. Prior to the Yoga Today classes, for reasons which I have yet to understand now privy to the wealth of knowledge available online, I did not approach the internet as a yoga resource until I had been practicing for about two years. I had never watched a yoga video, or listened to a sequence. I had never seen the practice in motion. I worked exclusively from books.
Yoga Today changed this. I devoured Adi's vinyasa classes at a rate of three per week, applying what I learned in self-led practices the rest of the week. Her deft, seamless sequences, loaded with graceful flows, daring balances and longer holds, inspired me to consider the creative possibilities within the asana practice, and soon I was applying them on my own, more in tune with my body, and practicing according to my own needs. Suddenly, I had my own practice.
Practicing in this way, free from plans and lists, demanded a new level of presence, a deeper focus in order to be able to intuit the type of practice I that needed on any given day, and discipline to keep the flow going. I fell in love with the grace and heat of the vinyasa practice, and this love propelled my practice into a whole new realm. I began to spend more time on my mat, often two hours a day, sometimes longer on my days off, for the sole purpose of exploring and learning as much as possible. It was around this time that I mustered the courage to finally go to a studio class. It was a good experience. More than anything else, I left that first class with the realization that my practice was still my practice, no matter where I laid my mat.
It was also around this time that I noticed the practice seeping into my day to day life. Physically, I was moving differently. I felt light and strong, balanced and stable, using my body in the right way. My health improved. My tension headaches decreased, and the migraines completely disappeared. Emotionally, my stress reactions began to transform. I became less reactionary, better able to observe myself in the present moment and act accordingly. Of course, I have had my weak moments, and will continue to do so, but hopefully, with practice, these moments will continue to dwindle.
Recently, I wrote about how I feel I have taken what I can from Yoga Today. I cancelled my subscription in April because the classes became more of a crutch than a tool. My practice continues to grow and evolve. I am currently inspired by the Ashtanga Primary and Intermediate series, though I continue to draw from varied resources and approach my practice with an experimental, even playful attitude.
The next chapter begins with the yoga teacher training program I will be attending this summer. I hope to come away from this experience with a wider scope of knowledge from which to deepen my own practice, and maybe some day I will teach this powerful practice to others.