Take Your Yoga Practice "Off the Mat"
When we practice yoga, we often find a deep sense of awareness, gratitude, and strength. Why let that stop with our time on the mat? Our physical practice only makes up a small part of a "yogic" lifestyle.
By integrating these practices into your every day life, you can take your yoga practice off the mat and enhance your day-to-day experiences with subtle yet powerful shifts. Enjoy!
1. Start with an intention.
Many yogis choose to begin practice with an intention. We may set the intention to maintain our ujjayi breath, cultivate more awareness, or send positive vibes to someone in need. One of my favorite rituals is to spend 5 minutes in the morning to bring focus and purpose to my day. When I carve out this precious time, I always feel more centered, grounded, and productive throughout the day.
To get started, choose a comfortable seated position (a meditation pillow or your favorite lounge chair). Close your eyes and focus on your breath. To help you get started on setting your own intention, here are some questions to ask yourself:
What do I most want to accomplish today?
How do I want to make those around me feel?
What qualities in myself do I want to cultivate?
2. Practice being present.
If you recall your most vivid memories, chances are you are remembering moments when you were most present. So what exactly does that mean?
By bringing our attention to the present moment, we are not hung up on the past or jumping ahead to the future. We are experiencing the moment we are in to its very fullest.
Practice presence whenever you can - playing with your kids, washing the dishes, walking through nature. I promise this off-the-mat practice will enrich your life in incredible ways!
3. Transition mindfully.
Do you know when you are most likely to injure yourself during a physical yoga practice? While transitioning between poses. Our minds tend to wander as we move, reflecting our last pose or wondering what's coming next (read: presence!)
Our lives also become turbulent as we start a new job, end a relationship, or experience other changes. By pausing in the space between poses or life events, we can experience a deep sense of gratitude and awareness that will ease our transitions.
4. Trust the experience.
Have you ever stepped into a yoga class, heard that you would be working on that day, and immediately wanted to run away?
We are typically drawn to poses we're good at, and shy away from those we need to practice the most.
In my experience, being guided through a challenging practice (for me this is inversions!!) leaves me feeling the most cleansed and fulfilled. Try calling on this wisdom when faced with an obstacle in your day by leaning into the experience and trusting the lesson. Know that a disagreeable co-worker or rained out plans present the opportunity for profound growth and transformation.
4. Practice seva.
"Seva" translates to "selfless service" in Sanskrit. As you have probably found through your practice, physical asana alone can leave you wanting more. Many yogis start to ask "what else?" as they search for deeper meaning and purpose off the mat.
By serving others, you can live your yoga practice and become a positive light and inspiration to those around you.
While grand acts of service are wonderful, you don't have to join the peace corps to make a difference. Greet your barista by name and with a smile. Help a neighbor lug groceries upstairs in your building. Practice compassion with your spouse or kids.
For more information on some organizations I have been blessed to work with, see my seva page here.
I hope you feel inspired to incorporate your yoga practice into your daily life! I would love to hear your questions and comments below!