I’ve recently rediscovered my love for my yoga self-practice again!
My yoga practice suffered for the past 3-4 months. Uni work, lectures, exams, time spent with friends & family, and teaching multiple yoga classes a week ultimately took over the majority of my time and energy. At the end of the day, the desire to practice on my own simply wasn’t there because I was exhausted.
I can definitely feel the difference in my body when I practice now from how my practice felt at the start of the year, when I dedicated more of my time to it. I’m reminding myself that it’s completely and perfectly natural for my yoga practice to go through ebbs and flows. I’m sure my self-practice will flourish again in time.
Months with my yoga self-practice on the back-burner means I’ve become less flexible (use it or loose it, as they say). But I’m actually stronger now thanks to my weekly acro yoga class that I managed to stick with through my too busy spring. It means I’ve had to say goodbye to doing full front splits (for now!). But as a nice little consolation prize, I’ve discovered that I can now do a pistol squat on both legs (definitely thanks to all of the basing in acro yoga).
This month there are certain aspects of my yoga practice I want to deepen. So here’s what this month’s self-practice is all about for me:
One of the main focuses of my yoga self-practice this month is to regain some of the flexibility I’ve lost. More specifically, active flexibility when it comes to:
- Hip extension – need this one for regaining the splits! It’s also super important to have good hip extension when going in to deeper backbends.
- External rotation – this is extremely hard for me after a past injury in my inner thigh and extremely helpful in daily life to sit comfortable on the floor.
My hip flexibility routine
- 2 minutes of passive stretching in low crescent lunge
- 3 rounds of PNF stretching in low crescent lunge: 10 second isometric contraction of the hip flexor followed by 10 second relaxing into the passive stretch, where I try to sink deeper into it.
- 2 minutes of passive stretching in low crescent lunge with a bind between one hand and the back foot.
- 10 dynamic flexibility standing leg swings out in front
- 10 dynamic flexibility standing leg swings out behind the back
- 2 minutes of passive stretching in pigeon pose
- 3 rounds of PNF stretching in reclined figure four: 10 second isometric contraction of the external rotator followed by 10 second relaxing into the passive stretch, where I try to sink deeper into it.
Aside from flexibility, this month is all about handstands for me. In less than two weeks I’m going to Spain to participate in a month long acro yoga and partner acrobatics teacher training. We’ll be spending 2 hours a day working on handstands, so I want to get my wrists and shoulders prepared for all the work they’ll be in for soon! That should minimize my risk of strain or injury and hopefully set myself up for getting the most out of the training.
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My handstand routine
- 5-10 minutes of wrist warm-up
- 5 minutes of trying to scissor kicks into a handstand (to improve my succes rate of entering handstand on the first try)
- 5 minutes of practicing tuck jumps into handstand (again, wanting to build muscle memory to land in handstand every time I jump)
- 10 minutes of play. That usually entails playing with downdog to handstand transitions through a tuck, straddle or pike jump. Trying to make the transitions as controlled and floaty as possible.
- 10 minutes of long static hold attempts in straight handstand and scissor legged handstand (the latter is definitely easier for me to balance).
Structured vs. free flowing yoga self-practice
While I don’t normally take such a structured approach to my yoga self-practice, I’ve had time to do it this month being on holiday from uni. I usually do the flexibility routine in the morning when I wake up or in the evening before I go to bed. I do my handstand practice in the afternoon followed by some free flowing on my yoga mat.
Sticking to a daily practice and consistently doing the same exercises has already made a gigantic difference! I’m 20 days in and already feeling so much more stable in my handstand. I beat my old personal handstand hold record of 25 seconds – my new record is 40 seconds! I’ve also gotten my puppy press consistently nearly every day for the past week. Before then I only had the strength to do it once every couple of weeks.
It feels great to take so much time for my yoga self-practice this month. I’m making sure to really treasure it, because I know I won’t have the same amount of time to practice when real life begins again after the summer holiday.
I hope this served as a little inspiration for your own self-practice.