Self Teacher Study – Personal Yoga Training Chart

A Personal Yoga practice gives you the freedom to practice anytime, anywhere. Practicing at home sounds easy enough but it can take years to cultivate your own intuitive, organic practice.

Needless to say, it can be challenging to self-direct your own practice. Having too many choices can feel overwhelming. Without a clear road map you might start avoiding your mat altogether.

When I feel overwhelmed I get organized. I keep a wire-bound notebook on my desk at all times.

I love making lists. All kinds. Grocery lists, “To Do” lists, long-term goal lists, project lists, etc. I love the satisfaction of crossing things off and throwing lists away. I keep the best lists.

Six months ago I started developing my first Personal Yoga training chart (feel free to expand upon it). This organizational tool played an essential role in my recovery from a herniated disk.

Create your own Personal Yoga Training Chart

Step 1: Free Writing

Start by free writing a page of notes. Write continuously until you fill the page. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc. Write about your goals. Write about any challenges you might be having with your home practice. It’s okay to go off topic, just keep writing.

Step 2: Movement Vocabulary

On a fresh sheet of paper make a list (!) of exercises. Think about your movement vocabulary. Which exercises will help you reach your goals? What do you enjoy doing?

[The key word here is: Enjoy. One pitfall to avoid is too much structure. Too many have-to’s. Not enough want-to’s.]

How do you want to move?

The level of challenge is up to you. You could include one or two exercises that you don’t necessarily enjoy but would be good for you. For the most part include exercises that you genuinely enjoy.

Step 3: Training Chart

On a third sheet of paper make a chart. On the left side of the page list all of the dates for the next month. Across the top of the page create columns for each exercise that you listed in Step 2.

The number of exercises is up to you. I recommend anywhere from 3-12. Your personal practice can be as simple or as challenging as you want to be. The idea is to pick exercises that you can see yourself doing on a day-to-day basis.

Tracking your daily progress is very satisfying. And a training chart provides you with a record of your efforts over time.

Off Days

Gaps in your training schedule are okay! It’s bound to happen at some point. Life gets busy or takes an unexpected turn. Be kind to yourself on your off days. Trust that you’ll get back on track as soon as possible.

Could you use a little help with with your budding home practice? I’d love to hear about your goals. Book a free no-obligation consultation today.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like:

Self Teacher Study – Mind Body Parkour

Personal Yoga Benefits

Self Teacher Study – Freedom Yoga Immersion

Self Teacher Study Freedom Yoga Immersion

I just completed Erich Schiffmann’s Freedom Yoga Immersion on Yoga Anytime. This online platform is “a community of yogis dedicated to the global sharing of the teachings of yoga.”

Erich Schiffmann is an American yoga master who has been called one of the innovators of modern day yoga. When this series came out in 2015 he had been teaching for 42 years and practicing for 48 years. His primary teachers include Krishnamurti, Desikachar, and Iyengar. Schiffmann is one of my yoga teacher’s teachers and his book “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness” is a personal favorite.

I’ve never studied with Schiffmann so you can imagine my excitement when I saw a coupon code on his Facebook page for a 30 day free trial of Yoga Anytime. I jumped at the opportunity and signed up for his five day immersion. It took me three weeks to complete the seventeen hour course.

The immersion was divided into philosophy discussions, guided meditation and asana practices, as well as Schiffmann’s signature Freedom Yoga practice. I skipped the silent Freedom Yoga sections and just observed the first couple of asana practices (videos are not my favorite learning style for asana).

Whenever you’re starting with a new teacher it’s always best to keep an open mind. If the “cup” of our minds is full it can be difficult to absorb new teachings. And when it comes to learning yoga use what works and leave the rest. So let’s start with what worked…

My favorite part was the guided meditations. Schiffmann is an expert meditation teacher. He understands that meditation is the main practice of yoga, and that meditation is what promotes and facilitates the realization of what yoga is about. Some of the meditations were absolutely delicious. I enjoyed his directions to “snuggle” parts of my body into the mat and to “squeegee myself clean” when doing body scans.

Schiffmann emphasizes the idea that yoga is a lifestyle – that it is so much more than “metaphysical P.E.” (love this!) Regarding the asana portion, I appreciated his preference for the “simple stuff.” He describes the asana practice as being very easy although the mindset is very advanced. The sequences are effective at opening the channels (nadis) in a gentle way that is suitable for all levels.

I enjoyed his stories about his yoga journey. He described a turning point of when he felt like he was always doing someone else’s yoga. After years of disciplined practice he said that his yoga felt like a dud. It was only when he learned how to channel lines of energy through his body that he became empowered with his own practice. This marked the beginning of Freedom Yoga.

Goof Off with Purpose

Schiffmann is an advocate of learning how to channel our own practices. He recommends beginning with systems of your choice. The discipline of learning established systems is important as it helps to “get you in the game,” but being dependent on a teacher is kind of a drag. Once you’re trained the practice begins to teach you and that’s when it becomes fun again. Otherwise it can feel like you’re stifling yourself. As you dive deep and allow free form movement to occur eventually it will flower as an intuitive practice.

Getting Online

The main technique (discipline) of Freedom Yoga is listening. Schiffmann describes this process as “getting online” or cultivating an intuitive connection with the infinite. He recommends beginning just by getting curious and presenting the question:

Something’s going on here , … ,

Stay tuned for Freedom Yoga Immersion Part II.

On a Moving Meditation Mission

Emily Seymour Yoga Moving Meditation MissionI’ve been a people watcher for almost two decades. I gather information from watching the way that people move, how they hold themselves, and so on.  I’m not as good as that guy on Lie to Me, but I can read body language pretty well.

I had a bit of a revelation at a 5Rhythms dance class in Manhattan. These classes are incredible – anywhere from fifty to one hundred people come together for two glorious hours of moving meditation. The music is perfectly orchestrated and the teachers are phenomenal. At one point I paused to look the sea of people and it hit me:

People need to move more.

If you think that this is a strange response to watching a group of dancers, you’re absolutely right. It IS unusual and it caught me a little off guard. I was observing how the class was moving as a whole; particularly the WAY the people were moving. A lot of bouncing (which is great for spinal decompression) but something wasn’t connecting.

And then it clicked.

In that moment I could see the impact of modern day lifestyles – particularly the effect of sitting in chairs. I mean ALL chairs – desks, couches, cars, airplanes, trains, buses, bicycles – even toilets! I could also see the impact of sitting and watching TV. The effects extended beyond their physical bodies, and I could see the effect of being routinely cut off from the lower power centers of the body.

It’s no secret that sedentary lifestyles are a slow killer. We know that moving is essential for good health, that it prevents Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. And with that understanding many people go to fitness classes, the gym, or exercise for maybe a few hours a week.

What I realized in that moment is that it’s not enough. Adult bodies were designed for movement, not to sit around, or work at a desk for 8-10 hours a day, or have our legs go numb in seated meditation. Even if you do work out on a regular basis, those benefits are being undone by too much sitting.

So I’m on a mission to change this. I’m encouraging people to move their bodies a whole lot more, in ways that help them integrate the upper and lower halves of their bodies. It sounds basic enough but the process of actually doing it takes some effort. There’s some lifestyle reconstruction involved and a willingness to open our minds to change.

Sun Salutation CircleExercise is a way of giving your body a gift.

A good way to start this is by finding ways to move that your body enjoys. One of my favorite moving meditations is the sun salutation series. Sun salutations are a great way to energize and open your whole body. There are many ways to modify the series to suit a wide range of ability levels. They can even be used for weight loss! I teach the sun salutations series in my Foundations Training course.

Ready to get moving? I’d love to hear from you. Schedule a FREE no-obligation consultation today: Book Now