The mornings have been getting darker and with that the early morning Mysore students are facing additional challenges to their practice. Soon enough it'll not only be dark but also cold when our alarms go off somewhere between 5 and 5.30 am. We must be mad to be getting on the mat this early! Yet, a few of us always manage to maintain a daily practice throughout winter without disruption.
It does take time to establish a level of commitment to your yoga practice that is stronger than the distractions and barriers that inevitably occur.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in establishing a regular, even daily, practice is the perception that if you don't or you are unable to do your "normal" practice, then you might as well not practise at all. I see this again and again in many different shapes and forms. People stop practising because of an injury, a lack of time or energy. Yet, a regular practice is what gives us the ability to create more balance, space and wellbeing in our lives.
It is important to understand that our practice is never the same from day to day. It needs to be varied to ensure it supports the rest of your life. You can vary the intensity, the duration, the emphasis.
This is one of the beautiful things about self-practice - you learn to listen into yourself and adjust your practice accordingly. Doing Sun Salutes and a finishing sequence with long inversions will serve you better than slogging all the way through Primary Series when you are feeling exhausted. On days that are busy and packed with things that need to be done, finding 10 minutes on the mat to sit and breathe, may be the perfect practice for the day.
Ashtanga Yoga is an outwardly strong physical practice but with time an understanding of the energetic aspects will grow. With that we learn that sometimes less is more and getting on the mat will only support our wellbeing if the practice is done with respect for ourselves.