What is Yoga? For many, it is gathering for session of guided sweaty asana. For others, it is that period of restorative relaxation. For others still, it is through private session that allows that one is able to grasp the particular nuances of the practice. There is much to be said about practicing in a group setting or one on one. Yet, having a personal practice allows the practitioner to set their own pace. This is where the techniques, asanas, sequencing are all self-determined. This is where one intimately connects with their own unique approach to practice.
Yoga is union. It is the path through which one strives to take the body mind and spirit to a level of cohesive oneness. By breathing fully and aligning the body’s physical components, one works on bringing the flow of energy to a higher state. Asana (yoga postures) and pranayama (yoga breathing techniques) practice become more meditative as one’s level of practice advances. At advanced stages, the meditative state achieved in asana can be present when one is not on the mat. Personal practice can effectively engender that state of body, mind, and spirit union.
Group practice brings a supportive, group energy dynamic to the forefront. It brings a sense of camaraderie to bear as everyone present can flow in unison to the dictated cues. This is no different from the ‘military basic training’ effect, the ‘team sports oriented’ practice session or in martial arts kata training / practice. The group leader gives instructions such that all can achieve a bit more than what they may limit themselves to believing is their best. Pushing to another level in a stepwise, progressive fashion that does not incur injury is critical in a group practice setting (or in any setting).
The one on one setting can be helpful in that assistance available to safely explore the edge of the physical demands of a particular asana or set of asanas. Depending on the level of understanding betwixt the two individuals, one can give cues and insight into various pranayama techniques, as well. One on One does not have to be expensive. Just two individuals who choose to share a practice space and support each other can help each other to experience the practice on another level.
The rounding out of one’s yoga journey is achieved through a personal practice. The personal practice can bring one’s current level of understanding to the fore. This mode of practice brings the focus to an internal state. In finding alignment, stability and breath, not from external cueing, but from one’s own internal resources, a more matured level of practicing can be achieved. Experiencing asana / pranayama on a personal level will enable a more profound expression of one’s practice in a group setting. This is not to imply that one will exude bravado in their practice. It is to say that a genuineness will be on display whenever one is one their mat.
This pose is great for taking breath into the backside of the body. Even so, there must still be breath going into the front side of our body as well.
Do your practices. Whatever they are. Wherever they may take place. Allow yourself to experience them to the utmost. However, do your own personal practice from time to time. Beat your own drum. Follow your inner guide. Let yourself expand the borders of your practice.