The DFD -Way back in 2007
I've often heard students say they can't start a home yoga practice because they don't know what they would do. Even longtime studio students think they'd have no idea what shape to make with their bodies without the guidance of the handy-dandy instructor.
I don't really think that's true. Well, I could put it this way.... In my experience, that hasn't been true. Even before training that told me which pose to put in next, somehow I could eek out a practice.
I think the reality is that we don't really know how to listen to and trust our bodies to lead us.
When I listen, my body tells me exactly what to do. It tells me what to eat. It tells me when to use the facilities. It tells me when to rest and when to get activated. It tells me when to get off the internet and go outdoors and when to come back in again. It definitely tells me precisely what to do. (my ego often doesn't want to listen, or circumstances don't allow it, but that's besides the point)
The same is true in my yoga practice. When I slow down and listen, I know what is needed next.
But what does that mean? Listen. Listen to what my body tells me.
I think the listening must be different for each person, and different in each practice too. It isn't like a loud speaker plays in my mind broadcasting the next pose, it is a far more subtle communication most of the time.
In normal life, it's a nudge towards a particular pose, one flashes up into my head and that's the one that I absolutely want to do next or want to build up to that day (maybe not the one I was planning on so there's a moment of letting go if I'm to truly follow my inner wisdom). My body just feels like doing trikonasana. Or a fleeting image of bakasana flickers before my eyes and when I go there a resounding YES arises inside.
In more extreme times my body becomes a bit more insistent... After I delivered my daughter I took 4 weeks off from asana practice. Many women go back much sooner (a day or two for some!!!). I really wanted to go back sooner, but my midwife instructed me to wait 4 weeks before walking around the block, so I figured that applied to my practice as well.
As the weeks dragged on I started with an inner impulse to get on my mat, the kind of thing I feel on a daily or weekly basis when the Shakti is flowing well in my practice. But then I started getting more full messages. Images of downward facing dog in my mind almost all the time. And a full bodied feeling sense of me IN downward facing dog, including the view down the length of my mat and back to between my feet.
When I finally returned to the mat my body gave a tremendous happy sigh. THANK YOU! (and my hamstrings felt shorter than they'd ever been) Then my body led me into deeply opening and restful poses for the next several months.
That's what I mean by listen. For me it is becoming more finely tuned to the way that my body's wisdom is presented to my conscious mind. And I think it is individual: Images, feeling senses, a deep desire to be in a shape. It all gets the point across.
So I think we don't need to be afraid to start. If we are quiet, and patient and open eventually it will come. The practice will flow, because your body absolutely knows what it needs and wants and how to get you to do it!