Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Mindful Practice

When I went for my yoga practice today I thought it'll be no different from my usual practice. It turned out the class that I went to was level one, which focused on basic poses, had a lower level of difficulty and slower pace.

Though the practice was less intense it allowed me to focus on my downward facing dog. One can never have too much practice in downward facing dog. Though it's a basic pose, it takes some practice to straighten up those legs and loosen the hamstrings. Each stretch progressively helped me to work into the next downward dog better.

About 7 years ago I started my first yoga practice with Adeline from Yoga Spirit in Singapore and she's definitely one of the best instructors that I've had. Over the years I've taken up yoga at various yoga studios on and off, dropping out of classes mainly due to a busy schedule, and occasionally because I didn't like the classes. At the yoga studio that I'm currently practicing, I feel that I've finally found a place that I can practice for the long term. 

I've always felt that the first teacher we have in everything we learn is the most important. We learn values and habits from that first teacher. Other than being a wonderful instructor, what I really appreciate about Adeline's class is that she is not afraid to set ground rules. At every practice, she would ask of her students to enter the room quietly if they were late, and set up their mats without disturbing other students. 

If anyone wants to get my attention during a practice, all they have to do is to slam their mats. That's one of my biggest pet peeves. I have been to yoga practices where people make a grand entry when practice is already in session by slamming their mats on the floor. I've even been to a class where two girls regularly giggled through the entire session and at some point even started chatting. It wasn't a drop-in class so  I couldn't go to another slot. That instructor didn't stop or gently remind them to be mindful. That really bothered me and I eventually stopped going to that class. To me, a mindful practice starts from the moment I enter the studio. Respect the mat that supports you throughout the practice. Be aware that you are sharing the practice room with others and try not to cause disturbance. 

I really like this new studio that I'm going to. My regular instructor is great and the bonus is that she has great music. It may seem trivial but the music selection really affects my practice. It's really hard to focus when I Want to Hold Your Hand is blasting in the background. I've had a really great instructor who had terrible music, but because she's really nice I never protested about her music selection.  

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