Sunday conversation: The benefits of a short practice

A few days ago, we posted about Richard Freeman’s advice that “any amount of practice is better than none.”

In his latest “Ask the expert” piece, Freeman addresses an issue I’ve heard most other Ashtanga teachers — including David Swenson and Tim Miller — discuss. Here’s what Freeman had to say, as a reminder:

If you only have 30 or 45 minutes, a good practice can be to do suryanamaskara A & B a few times each, 2-4 standing postures, 2-4 seated postures (or postures from a series you are working on) and then a full finishing sequence. If for several days in a row you find you have limited time, rotate the postures you include in the sequence you choose to practice so that over the course of several days you have practiced all the postures in the series. That way you don’t avoid postures you don’t like—which is always a temptation.

Today’s question, or conversation-started, is whether you do short practices when that’s all you have time for or if you skip altogether. Is it all or nothing for you?

Posted by Steve

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There are some benefits to the occasional short practice

As I noted last night, I snuck in a short practice after work.

I wasn’t sure what, or if, I wanted to practice. And then I happened upon Richard Freeman’s suggestions for just my quandary. So I got to the mat, did a few Suryanamaskaras, a handful of standing and seated poses, and then the closing sequence.

Guess what? It proved extremely enlightening, especially when it came to my breath.

I don’t think I’ve made it any secret that the practice is tough for me, mainly due to flexibility issues. I think I have the strength and stamina, but not the hamstrings!

I also know that I’m a long way from the long, slow, steady breaths that should be animating my practice. But when working through all of First, well, it’s hard to stay focused on the breath, and the bandhas and the dristis and — here’s the kicker — be pulling yourself deeper and deeper into poses. At least, it’s hard for me.

Last night, though, I knew I had fewer poses to conquer (if you will), and that enabled me to get that much more out of each one. (This may be an argument for my stopping after navasana — the only trouble is, that doesn’t on an every day basis challenge my strength and stamina enough. At least, given my less-than-perfect practice. But I digress.)

For whatever reason, I seemed to focus more on the breath than bandhas or dristi, and it showed me where I could — and should — be.

So that’s something for me to think about. Should a short practice, when I can heighten my focus, be something I add in? How can I bring those longer breaths to the longer practice? I know, from experience, I’m capable.

Quite a few lessons, in other words.

Of course, those lessons went straight in the toilet during this morning’s Led class, especially when my teacher was sitting on me in Kurmasana and — and! — Supta Kurmasana.

Posted by Steve

Freeman: ‘Any amount of practice is better than none’

This week’s “Ask the Expert” by Richard Freeman addresses an issue that, strangely enough, I’m facing myself tonight: to do a short practice or none at all?

Here’s Freeman’s suggestion for when you only have 45 minutes to practice:

If you only have 30 or 45 minutes, a good practice can be to do suryanamaskara A & B a few times each, 2-4 standing postures, 2-4 seated postures (or postures from a series you are working on) and then a full finishing sequence. If for several days in a row you find you have limited time, rotate the postures you include in the sequence you choose to practice so that over the course of several days you have practiced all the postures in the series. That way you don’t avoid postures you don’t like—which is always a temptation.

He adds more about those postures you don’t like, but you’ll have to check the above link to find out what he says. (He also, of course, says what’s in this post’s headline.)

The timing of this post is good as tonight I only have about 45 minutes, at home, to practice. (Good news, it’s actually an extra practice; I was going to go this morning, but couldn’t, and not go tomorrow to a Led class. I’m now going to that class tomorrow and going to sneak in a little practice tonight.)

I was planning to do the other 54 sun salutes I didn’t get to last Friday. Now, I might consider following Freeman’s advice. He probably knows better than I do, after all.

Posted by Steve