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Maintaining a Personal Practice

Ever since I started teaching, my personal practice has become less for me and more for my teaching. Whenever I come up with something during my own practice, I immediately think, "How can I share this with my students?" It has made my practice feel less inwardly focused, and I miss the way it used to be. Is this normal?
— Susan

Read Ana Forrest's response:

Dear Susan,

This is an excellent question, one that many teachers face. Maintaining our personal practice is a big challenge, especially as our popularity grows and more demands are made on our time. I suggest scheduling time every day for your personal practice. It's best if it can be the same time each day. This is your time for your growth, your healing, and your exploration. If during this practice you come up with some wonderful, cool insight for your students, great. Write it down. But then come back to your own practice.

When I 'm teaching a workshop, my morning practice includes the session that I'll be teaching that day. I do this to "test-drive" the class—to make sure its sequencing works smoothly and the poses are compelling for the level of students enrolled. If I have time, I also do a separate practice, one that's my personal practice. If I don't have the time for that, then I schedule an extra-long practice, say three hours, part of which time is for the class I am about to teach and part of which is for poses I need or want to work on.

To answer your question, make your practice very personal and also record the insights you feel will be wonderful teaching gifts. If you are going to teach a workshop or class, do that class privately before teaching it to be sure that it works. But know that if you are always practicing the class you are teaching your students, then you are not practicing at your level. You are ripping yourself off. You need to practice at a level that draws you deeper and feeds you with challenge and inspiration. Therefore, be sure to include time for your own practice.

Ana Forrest is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in yoga and emotional healing. Born crippled, her own life trauma and experiences compelled her to create Forrest Yoga®. Her focus in Forrest Yoga is to guide the student in the sacred exploration of truth, healing and "the Great Mystery." She is a well-known contributing expert to Yoga Journal and other national wellness publications. She travels internationally teaching at yoga conferences, workshops, and teacher trainings.

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