The published version of the "Yoga Practice Journal" can be purchased direct from the publisher or ordered through your local bookshop.

Excerpt from "Yoga Practice Journal"
2005 by Witold Fitz-Simon

 
PRACTICE GUIDELINES
 

Figure out what your body needs.


Approach any practice with a modicum of sensitivity. Your head may decide that an active practice with lots of Chaturangas is the order of the day, but you may find yourself sluggish and aching after only a few sun salutations. Or you might feel low energy and depressed and after five minutes in Supta Baddha Konasana you only feel worse.
Decide what you are going to do beforehand, but if your mental and energetic state is not improved - either in the direction of more vibrant or more serene, whichever is required - then it is better to change tack. Forcing yourself to do something that you are not in a fit state for is the opposite of yoga. You can refer to “Effects of the Poses” to give you a sense of what might work for you on any given day.
 

Center yourself.


Begin the formal part of your practice with a few moments of centering, either in an easy cross-legged position or in a restorative pose. Close the eyes and bring the awareness into the breath. After a few moments, ask yourself if what you had planned for your practice still makes sense. And then begin.
 

Prepare your body.


Begin the active portion of your practice with a few simple poses to wake up the limbs. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) and Child’s Pose are three good poses to begin with regardless of what you choose to practice. You might then do a few rounds of Surya Namaskar for general toning and preparation.

Unless you intend your practice to be centered on Surya Namaskar and fast movements go easy at this point. If you tire yourself out with endless jumping, you will not have much energy left for more detailed work.

Whatever poses you choose to begin with should reflect the part of the body you are going to work with. Standing Poses go well with just about anything (see “Multiple Qualities of Standing Poses”), but they are probably not going to be the most helpful thing if you are going to work on arm balances, for example.
 

Emphasize your focus OR Balance your energies.

 
EMPHASIZE YOUR FOCUS:

Pick one or two complementary categories of pose to work with. Begin with the easier poses in the easier category and work your way towards the harder poses in the harder category. What is easier and what is harder will likely be different for different people, but here are some general guidelines:

STANDING POSES - These are generally a good place to start because of the various ways in which you can approach them.

FORWARD EXTENSIONS - These engage and lengthen the back of the body while releasing the front. They use the superficial muscles of the back.

TWISTS - These use deeper muscles than Forward Extensions and have a toning effect on the abdomen.

BACKWARD EXTENSIONS - These generally are the strongest category of poses, using the deepest layers of muscle and requiring the most attention.
 
BALANCE YOUR ENERGIES:

Alternatively, you can approach your practice along the lines of energetic effects:

STANDING POSES - These are the most envigorating and the most toning for the body as a whole.

SEATED POSES - These settle one’s energy and refresh the body, preparing it for other poses to follow.

TWISTS - These internalize one’s awareness and activate the deeper muscle groups.

BACKWARD EXTENSIONS - These often require the most preparation before performing. They need to be approached intelligently and recovered from compassionately.

TWISTS - These, performed in a gentler fashion than if they were a primary focus, are useful to relieve the back after Backward Extensions.

INVERSIONS - These have a more restorative effect, even if they are challenging, so it makes sense to put them towards the end of a practice.

FORWARD EXTENSIONS - Also restorative in nature, putting them late in a practice will prepare the body for Savasana (Corpse Pose). In many people the back and the hamstrings are the tightest part of the body, so placing them at the end of the practice when the body is warmer and more supple will optimize performance of these poses.

RESTORATIVE POSES - Savasana (Corpse Pose) is the primary restorative pose and should be considered essential for every practice, but any of the others, such as Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) or Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) performed over a bolster can be valuable additions, and even substitutions if you feel like you might fall asleep in Savasana (Corpse Pose).
 
 

The published version of the "Yoga Practice Journal" can be purchased direct from the publisher or ordered through your local bookshop.