Living Yoga-How a Yogi Takes Her Practice off the Mat and into Her Life
Do you love yoga? Me too. Let me count the ways:
The ability to touch your toes
Long, lean muscle
Deep, cleansing breaths
Yoga has a lot going for it. But did you know you could take your yoga with you wherever you go? No mat, no pants, no problem. As every teacher at some point has explained to you, yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj which means to yoke, or to connect. Connecting mind with body, masculine with feminine, day with night, solar with lunar. Creating balance. Practicing non-harming in your words and actions.
So imagine this. You’re in a yoga class and your instructor cues you to root your feet into the floor and come into the moment by focusing on breathing. Shoulders down and back, lift your heart, enjoy being right here, right now… smile from the inside. Can you imagine the magic that would happen if you took the cues from your mat into your work, home, and everyone and everywhere in between?
Yoga is in everything we do.
Yoga is the way you perceive your world around you, the decisions you make, and how you act and react with people.
Yoga is a lens through which you choose to view the world.
Yoga is how you choose your attitude, how you sit in silence, or sit at a meeting at work, or sit in miles of traffic. Everywhere.
My yoga is hanging up laundry on the clothesline on a warm, sunny day. Or sitting with a cup of coffee in the morning with my dogs resting near me. It’s listening to the wind rustle the spring leaves or the crinkle of autumn leaves underfoot. It’s the sound of my daughter sleeping, how her breathing slows and how her head smells so sweet.
Yoga, besides doing wonders for the body, does wonders for the spirit. Too often we leave yoga on the mat—constantly connected, wearing busy-ness like a badge of honor, forgetting to breathe. We need to remember, myself included, to bring ourselves into the present, to take time for ourselves, and to find joy in the simplest of moments. Especially now. We need yoga now more than ever.
I came up with a very simple off-the-mat yoga practice for you to do today, right now if you want to. It’s *drumroll* getting your mail. Yes, I’m serious. Here’s what I want you to do.
Go out to pick up your mail, slowly and with purpose, breathing in deeply and mindfully.
Take a second to practice gratitude for the air that fills your lungs.
Practice gratitude for the sun or rain on your skin. Consider how magical the sun is, warming the earth, helping plants to grow, providing energy for our planet. Do the same for rain or clouds, depending on the weather.
Practice gratitude for having a home that mail is delivered to.
As you approach the mailbox, you are confident that whatever comes is going to be good. In that moment, all things are all right in your world. You walk gracefully and with purpose, feeling the earth at your feet, with ease and confidence radiating in your posture.
All this brightness comes simply from grabbing the mail. Cool, huh?!
Here are some more Off-the-Mat Yoga Ideas
Use your senses while cooking, smelling and tasting the food.
Mindfully fold laundry, inhaling the freshly washed linen scent and feeling the different fabrics against your fingertips.
Be fully present with your child in whatever activity they choose for 15 minutes. (Feel the urge to check your phone? Just recognize that urge and let it go.)
Eat slowly and mindfully. (Bonus: this can even help you eat less and actually feel more satisfied!)
Turn on your favorite music while you’re working.
Mindfully savor a hot shower.
Diffuse some essential oils or burn a candle in the evening while you wind down.
Hold your partner’s hand during a walk and feel their energy flowing through to your hand, and vice versa.
Boost your workouts’ efficacy by exercising mindfully.
Before you fall asleep, think about the blood flowing through your veins. If you concentrate hard enough, you can feel the energy flowing through your entire body and it’s pretty magical. Just imagine everything your body does with no action on your part.
To practice yoga isn't simply repeating Down-dog into plank over and over. You can live yogically every minute of every day, by taking a deep breath, and accepting life as it is in each moment...to see the world through the lens of yoga is like a pair of glasses put on and never taken off. The things in your daily life that seem mundane have the ability to become one of a thousand bright moments that make each and every day worthwhile.
And if it seems silly to be cheery and blissful in your simple daily life actions, ask yourself this: Why not?
I’d love for you to join me for my free online 30-minute yoga class. It’s for all levels of experience and flexibility, and you can even invite your family to join. I hope it’ll inspire you to keep your yoga practice going both on and off the mat! Sign up here for Family-Friendly Yoga! Stay stong and I'll see you on the mat! Connie Pastorius, BS, RYT-500