Get Your Ritual Right: Thoughts on pre & post practice practices...Mar 11, 2023
So, what are your before or after class rituals? Because even if you don’t know it, you have some.
Do you do some light warm-ups? Or, breathing exercises?
Do you always pee right before you step on the mat?
Or, do you scramble to make it to class, logging in at the last second, a little breathless? Or stumbling into a studio?
And, after class… what does that look like for you?
Is it a good 5-minute Savasana? Do you have time to reflect on the practice and maybe do a little journaling?
Or, do you rip the mat off the floor as soon as it’s over and seemingly polite to leave?
If you’re practicing from home do you fly right into the next part of your day?
I’m here to tell you none of it is wrong. It’s all absolutely fine.
You are awesome whether you took the 5-minute Savasana, or started with a breathing exercise, or did your Tibetans, or whether you flew into class and flew out of it.
Because you were able to carve out even the tiniest bit of time for your practice and for you… that alone makes you awesome.
I hope that’s nice to hear for those of you that might feel a little guilty about rushing to and from class.
Please take a deep breath in and let any judgement you have for yourself and the other people you practice with go right now.
Because if you thought I was going to reprimand anyone for their choices before or after yoga, you have got me all wrong.
BUT, we are going to talk ritual today.
And, maybe together we can come up with a before and after practice ritual that will help you pull your yoga into your day – helping you to adjust accordingly to each situation, or personality you encounter.
I’m going to start telling you about some of my rituals.
But, let’s go all the way to the beginning. Because my rituals have changed over the past decade – big time!
When I first began, I was a spot person. It wasn’t by choice, but I would arrive at the studio with my husband who was a spot person.
A spot person? They have to roll out their mat in a particular spot in the room. And, if they don’t get their spot… they feel like everything about that day’s practice just… blows.
They love that spot. They are comfortable there and they will arrive as early as it takes to get that spot.
So, by default – I had a spot.
Once I rolled out my mat I tried to be a good yogi and lie in Savasana in meditation.
But, I would always instead let my eyes open and people watch instead, forming stories about the other people in class from my observations.
After class, I’d take the appropriate amount of time in Savasana and then battle my way through the too loud changing room to grab my stuff and get back home.
When my husband stopped practicing, my rituals changed.
I’d arrive about 15-minutes before class and work my butt off before we even began. Wall walks, extra sets of postures I knew we would be working on… I had 15 minutes of making sure I was going to nail every posture in that class… even though that never happened.
After class, a long Savasana – because the changing room would empty out enough that it didn’t seem like a full throttle attack on all of the senses, and then a good long chat in the entryway down the stairs with some of the friends I had made through the classes.
And, then I became a teacher. With it came another shift in ritual.
I would warm-up at home, having already done a good long meditation and then walk into the class 5-minutes beforehand, ready to roll.
I knew that if I was just there to practice and not teach, being there too early meant I was going to have to teach, students asking questions or wanting me to look at something. Which was completely fine, but there was also a point where I realized there was never a break.
After class at this point was all about the extra work. Half an hour to an hour of deeper back bends, beginning to think about arm balances and inversions, working out postures that were in class over and over again until they seemed effortless (even though they so, so were not).
Towards the end of my time working at the studios, I had moved most of my practice to my at-home yoga room. There was so much stress working at a studio and I wanted to reclaim my practice.
So, before class I would do light warm ups to get my hips and shoulders ready. I would then move through my practice and I have to admit have a super short Savasana before moving on to the next thing.
This has been a journey! But, I’m going to tell you where it is now today. And, what I’m hoping to shape it into over time, so that I am feeling the benefits of the practice for longer.
I love to practice in the morning. So, if I’m not teaching in the morning I make it into my yoga room by 7:30am for at least a 15-minute meditation.
Afterwards, I journal or set an intention, not only for my practice, but for the day ahead. This can look like me choosing something I know I need to work on, or an Angel Card, or a card from the Light Seeker’s Deck to get an idea or spark something within me that maybe I’m not aware of.
From here I move through my Self Myofascial Release Routine while listening to an inspiring podcast or music that makes me feel good.
Afterwards I move through the 5 Tibetans and do a set of Wall Walks. Then I sit in a long Sleeping Cow Face Pose and move into Transverse Splits.
If my shoulders are achy or feeling abused from yesterday’s practice, I spend sometime doing shoulder CARs which is Functional Range Conditioning.
Then I move through the practice.
This can be a sequence I came up with or it can be an on-demand class I’ve been wanting to take.
Afterwards, Inversion Work – not a lot – I’m usually pretty tired from the practice, but enough that I can say I worked on it.
Then Savasana. Long enough that I feel relaxed and my breathing has slowed way down.
While in Savasana I focus on what I could do today. The things that went well, or the parts of the class I really enjoyed.
I try not to focus at this point on everything I still want to accomplish. I let that go for now.
That list, is like the house list.
You know when you own a house there is always a list of what you would like to do to improve the house.
This list is the same for yoga. There is always a list of things you would like to achieve in the practice. It changes and evolves, but the list will always exist.
Ditch the list right now.
Then I take the time to thank my body.
I actually tell it what a great job it’s doing. (I know this sounds hoaky, but you know what? Your body is listening, so why not tell it nice things?)
And, then I get off my mat and with an intention to stay with the grace the practice has brought into my mind and body, I go take a shower.
So, I know that sounds like a LOT.
And, you don’t have to do all of this. Or, any of this if it doesn’t speak to you.
But, have you ever thought about having a pre-class/post-class ritual?
How do you think your practice would change if you did?
My advice to you is to start small. Choose one small thing you’re going to do to set you up for success.
Maybe you shut down all devices before you log into class.
Or, if you always have to pee, you make that some real Me-time where you pause and become aware of your breath and your thoughts.
Maybe you decide that you won’t pick up your cell phone until 20-minutes after the class is finished. So, that you feel super grounded in what you want the day or night to look like before the rest of the world chimes in.
These are just some thoughts.
But, I will tell you that bringing ritual into your life and into your practice is going to transform it into something even better than it already is.
Is it possible for yoga to get even better? Absolutely.
But, it begins with intention, getting really clear on how you want to feel in your body and in your life and then taking the steps to make it possible for you.
Tori Hicks-Glogowski has been practicing yoga for almost 20 years and has been teaching for well over a decade.
With over 1000 hours of yoga education under her belt, she knows all too well how the practice of yoga can transform your life.
Beginning as an Original Hot Yoga Instructor in 2011, Tori also sought out certifications in Level II Traditional Hatha Yoga and CYoga, among many others.
She is a Certified RAD Yoga Mobility Specialist with expertise in self myofascial release techniques and was a USA Yoga Coach, assisting yoga athletes to train for competition.
Her superpower is to take a student stuck in "Beginner Yoga Land," and assist them to build into something much more empowering and fun, helping them tap into their limitless possibilities on their yoga mat and in their lives.
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