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.