The Perfect Practice

What's your perfect practice?  And I don't mean performing the asanas well, for there is no perfect pose, or exactly aligning movement with the breath, inhalations and exhalations perfectly equalized -- as long as you're breathing mindfully, you're doing yoga well.  What I want to know is what is the practice that grounds you?  That washes the mind clean and makes the body light?

This evening, before heading off to teach, I didn't have time for a full practice, but needed something to set my mind right, to shed the day and prepare me for the work ahead.  First, I sat for 20 minutes of pranayama.  Five cleansing breaths, five rounds of kapalabhati, and ten breaths of nadi shodhana.  Then five more cleansing breaths and a dedication.  Then 10 Surya Namaskra, moving slowly with the breath:  five A and five B, with 5 long inhalations and exhalations in each downward facing dog.  After that, 25 breaths in Sirsasana A.  Ten breaths in Sirsasana B (legs parallel to the floor), followed by child's pose and sweet savasana.  Simple.

Today, and often in the past when I've had limited time or energy, this is my perfect practice.  The pranayama is energizing.  The flow of the Suryas is meditative.  The downward dogs heal the body, and the headstand completely clears the mind.  The whole thing takes just under an hour, and it gives me everything I need.

I've been thinking more on the idea of efficient practice, ways to trim the fat, if you will (That's the proverbial fat.  Not the "bra fat," mind you).  This may have something to do with my currently loaded schedule.  I no longer have luxurious afternoons to set aside for my practice.  It's been an adjustment needing to fit in the practice rather than fitting things around the practice.  I am managing to get on the Manduka five or six days a week, but because of this random shuffle, I am motivated to use my time on the mat more wisely, honing in on that which serves me and leaving the rest.

It's a lesson in life, really.  Simplify and let go.  We must acknowledge our priorities honestly.  We must identify that which feeds us, that which allows us to serve best, and leave behind that which stands between us and those elements in life which have real value.


  1. Legs up the wall for 15 minutes - nothing quite like it. Like you say, simplifying and letting go. A life lesson

  2. My perfect practice

    core asana
    10 minutes of tadasana sequence (arm movements)
    5 Minute paschimottanasana
    5 Minute Shoulderstand
    10 minute headstand with variations
    5 minutes shoulderstand with variations

    plus perhaps another twenty minutes to add the odd extra asana or subroutine here and there bringing the asana practice up to around an hour

    Followed by half an hour each of pranayama and meditation.

    Still need my ashtanga practice it seems but for now I just love practicing like this every morning.

  3. today:
    adho mukha virasana 5 breaths, downdog for 25 breaths, uttanasana 10 breaths, trikonsana 10 breaths, ardha chandrasana 10 breaths, repeat both, sirsasana 5 minuts, salamba sarvangasana cycle, pashimottanasana, bharadvajasana2, 5 breaths, savasana 10 minutes. ujjaji1, 2, 10 minutes.

  4. Oh, so many perfect practices for so many different days!

    I have pretty much distilled my weekday practice into a 45min-1hour morning practice. This includes about 10 mins of pranayama and a brief savasana at the end. I use the Ashtanga standing poses and then vary the sitting poses, vinyasas, arm balances etc. according to my level of energy and what my body needs that day.

    But for when time is of the essence, my favourite short-and-sweet-go-to practice is a more restorative sequence: cat and cow, a big long downward dog to release my spine, warrior II-triangle-extended angle for hips and the sides of my back, then 3-legged dog to pigeon pose, some seated twists a forward bend, bridge pose, shoulderstand, headstand, supine twists, savasana. It takes about 20-30 minutes all up and leaves me feeling oh so refreshed!

  5. If you are interested in Healthy Living, you should be interested in Ayurveda. It's not anything weird - it means "longevity". There's a pretty good book on choosing foods that are best for your unique physical makeup. It's called "Foods Heal".