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    16/09/2015 3:54 μμ.

    If we practice the science of yoga, which is useful to the entire human community and which yields happiness both here and hereafter – if we practice it without fail, we will then attain physical, mental, and spiritual happiness, and our minds will flood towards the Self.” Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

    Not being an expert in Sanskrit or yoga philosophy, I still believe that looking back a little bit to find origins of our subject will broaden our perspective and make us curious to search for more!

    Some history of the word practice: In Sanskrit most often we hear the terms abhyasa and sadhana to describe the meaning of practice and in Mahabharata we find the word yoga kritya again as yoga practice. The word practice conveys generally the idea of means used for freedom and usually is seen to have 3 components 1. Tapas 2. Svadhyaya 3. Isvara-pranidhana (Kriya yoga).This is the foundational method in the Astanga 8fold path of Patanjali. Practice traditionally addresses not only to the physical plane but also to the mental, subtle energetic, emotional etc.

    Being a teacher for many years I have witnessed again and again the beauty of self-practice, its challenges and its benefits. In our yoga center, this year, we start our Vinyasa Improvisation class, a free, self-practice class, to motivate our older students to move deeper into themselves. Here is why you have to start self-practice:

    It’s a really fine way to start creating the habit of a daily routine that you can keep up even in your home, the days you can’t make it to the yoga studio.

    Through self-practice you take the responsibility and initiative to create new habits and weaken old ones that don’t serve you. The decision to take your own action will create a stronger base of living that will affect your whole life and influence every choice you make.

    Often when we are guided in yoga sequences from our teacher we tend to forget that we have also an inner teacher or guru. Choosing to be on our own in our yoga mat will challenge our approach to practice and bring all fear and self-worth issues on the surface opening a new door to our growth.

    Following a led class, you have to go along with the teacher’s energy, mind and voice rhythm. He creates a tone and you follow this pace. This can be very helpful to uplift your energy and mind but if the teacher isn’t around what about you and your mind? Are you able to focus, or truly hear yourself, follow your personal rhythm and needs? Can you move towards “citta vritti nirodah”? Try self-practice and you will get sooner or later a great deal of deep satisfaction.

    Knowledgeable yoga teachers, with passion and personal experience, love to share their knowledge and insights with their students. Self-practice is the best way you can apply all you learned from your teacher. It’s the most honest way to face the true value of your yoga practice while your teacher can see you (in every level) and guide you, support you and truly offer what you individually need.

    Traditionally self-practice was the foundation of yoga and all other paths of inner quest. Students approached their teacher, with passion and openness to understand and deeply meet with his teaching. The teacher was giving instructions – guidance, the student left, practicing by himself and then went back again and again to the teacher. Today we find often ourselves relying upon people outside of us. It’s a nice opportunity to take the teacher’s teachings, implement them with gratitude and then come back with questions. It’s the finest way to be open and also appreciate all that is given.

    You will start paying attention to small but important details that until today your teacher kept repeating, but maybe didn’t caught your attention… [what’s the breathing pattern to enter and get out of an asana (vinyasa), what pranayama technique can I use and when ? etc]

    It’s your private room for exploration and research plus you get juicy adjustments from the teacher!

    One thing is certain, the more you practice, you will have deeper access to yourself in all levels and the benefits will start multiplying. Blessing to all teachers and students that practice, in any system, from Ashtanga Mysore system to Erich Schiffmann’s freedom style yoga.

    Sofia Markou

    Certified Yoga & Meditation Educator

    Energy Healing Therapies

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