Q: How do you go from having a teacher who helps you work on a personalized sequence to establishing a home practice when you are no longer close to a good teacher's guidance? —Ana Santiago, Mexico City, Mexico
Sudha Carolyn Lundeen's reply:
You have addressed a situation that many yoga practitioners run into, and it can be very challenging. This can be especially difficult if you are making the transition from having a teacher who works with you privately. It's not uncommon to find your motivation and confidence begin to wobble without that consistent guidance. So, what to do? Get some support.
Find ways to ease into this transition. Ask your former teacher if she/he would be willing to talk to you by phone once in a while. If you have access to a video camera, tape your practice and send it to your teacher for coaching. You could also ask him or her to
make you an audio or video tape to practice with to help you feel your teacher's presence right in your new home. Another motivational trick is to find a yoga buddy, someone with whom you can practice and study. Having another person show up once a week to do yoga with you can significantly jump-start your home practice, whether you do your own thing side by side, put on a tape from one of your favorite teachers, or pull out the books and coach each other. As the saying goes, company is stronger than will power.
Another suggestion is to periodically take advantage of the many wonderful yoga teachers who travel to different cities to teach. It sounds like you have experienced the benefits of having particularly inspiring teachers; chances are you can find some of their schedules on their Web sites or advertised in Yoga Journal.
You clearly take your practice to heart and miss the support that you had grown accustomed to. Don't give up. Persistence pays off. And in the meantime, focus on cultivating the ability to hear and trust your inner teacher. In the end, the most important teacher of all is the one within.
Sudha Carolyn Lundeen is certified as an Advanced Kripalu Yoga Instructor, Holistic Health Nurse, and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She is the former Director of Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association, has been leading programs on yoga, health, and healing for more than 20 years, and is a senior faculty member
at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. She offers private yoga coaching and specializes in helping women navigate the experience of breast cancer.