In today’s world, it’s so easy to get caught up in our hectic lives always running from here to there, planning for the next hour or day, and giving little thought to the moment. We don’t mean to! That’s just how our lives are set up. We have a lot going on and very little time to do it. But your precious time of centering yoga or meditation practice doesn’t have to end after we come off our mat.
“Yoga,” meaning “union,” is about reconnecting us with what is important—be it the planet, other human beings, or ourselves. Yoga certainly needn’t remain an isolated activity that ends when we roll up our yoga mats. On the contrary, we take yoga with us on our journey through life as an amulet for the challenges we face along the way.
Here’s some simple ways to bring yoga into your daily life, living yoga off the mat.
The moment your eyes flutter open in the morning, bring your hands in Pranamasana (prayer hands in front of your heart) and give a prayer of gratitude for anything! Whatever comes to mind (your breath, your family, the fact that you woke up). Just sincerely and soulfully give recognition and gratitude for your blessings and try to touch in with that heart space throughout your day.
Become the observer, the witness. As you go throughout your day, when you find yourself being reactive and emotional, take a step back, inhale, and witness. Ask yourself what am I reacting to? How can I respond to this as opposed to reacting to it? This is an incredibly powerful shift!
Many of us take our breath for granted. We breathe short shallow breaths, which over time, leads to anxiety, stress, even pulmonary weakness. As often as you can throughout the day (set a timer on your phone if you need to) pause for 60 seconds, and witness your breath. Close your eyes, place one hand on the center of your belly and take equal inhalation and exhalations breathing slow mindful yogic breaths in your belly. Do this regularly and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your stress level plummets!
Increasing flexibility might be one of the main goals we have when we show up on our yoga mats. Being more flexible is as much about the mind as it is about the muscles.
Improving our flexibility might actually be tougher when we are off the mat. We are very often stuck in expectations, beliefs, behaviors, likes, dislikes, stories and customs, that we forget to flow in the present and surrender to life. One of the easiest ways to be happy is through acceptance. We are flexible by willing to change what we want and how we think, by accepting what comes to us. It’s more important to cultivate flexibility in our minds than in our bodies. A flexible mind allow us to be present and enjoy life more.
During class, you tune into and honor your inner compass, asking yourself “does this feel right in my body”? Continue your self-respecting awareness off the mat by silently checking in during interactions and asking yourself “does this feel right in my life?” Consciously checking in with your intuition will bring clarity and peace to your decisions as you honor your internal truth.
Be mindful of your intention.
Be aware of your intention behind every thought, every word, and every action. What are you hoping to cultivate from each action? That is your intention. Be mindful that you’re making decisions with the purest of intentions. Everything we think, say, and do comes from one of two places: fear or love. Make your intentions come from a place of love. This ensures love and good vibes not only for yourself but for those around you.
Yoga gives an opportunity to explore things outside your comfort zone – like standing on your head!. Take your yoga off the mat by extending your adventurous spirit to human interactions. Challenge yourself to try something new each day – this can be as simple as talking to a stranger or agreeing to participate in a community event. We are all connected.
Be of service.
This can be to yourself one day and a stranger the next. Allow your intuition to guide you. But each day be of service to someone. Weave kindness and compassion into your daily life, whether it’s being kind to yourself by resting when you need it, bringing a neighbors dustbin in, or donating your time. The choices are endless but make it a goal, in some way, to be of service to someone daily.
Some simple ways to live yoga and continue feeling those good vibrations from your practice on the mat off the mat!