Many of us experience feelings of absolute tranquility and relaxation during our yoga practice. But when we leave the safety and comfort of our mat for the big bad world of traffic, bosses, and other daily irritations, our calm, relaxed yogi demeanor can disappear fast. In order to get the full benefits out of our yoga practice, we need to find ways to ‘live’ our yoga, and trust that whatever works on the mat will also work off the mat. You can start by including the following 3 practices in your day-to-day life.
1. Be Aware of Your Body
Because yoga poses are not shapes that we usually find ourselves in throughout the day, they naturally lend themselves to being aware of our bodies. However, it’s equally possible to become aware of our posture and alignment in any situation we’re in. Just as your yoga instructor leads you to notice your alignment and the position of your body during yoga class, you can become aware of the positions your body takes as you sit, stand and move around throughout the day.
When sitting, check that it’s with a straight spine.
While walking, notice the position of your head and neck.
While standing, see whether your feet are pointed in, out or straight forward.
When texting, notice if your spine and neck rounds and hunches.
When stressed or very focused, notice your jaw, mouth, and forehead.
These are just a few examples of situations and postures you might find yourself in throughout the day. The more often you check in with your body, the more you will learn about the ways you habitually hold yourself, and where and why you hold tension in your body.
2. Notice Your Breath
Our breath literally sustains our life from moment to moment, yet outside of yoga class—where we are specifically directed to focus on our breathing, we rarely notice it. Throughout the day, take small moments to check in with your breath the same way you do during yoga class. Pay particular attention to how quickly you’re breathing, and how deep your breaths are, as these often reveal your state of mind and your stress level. Being aware of our breath allows us to steady it, which will in turn steady our body and mind, leaving us feeling balanced and relaxed. In particular, make sure to take deep breaths whenever uncomfortable sensations, emotions, or situations arise, as breathing into uncomfortable sensations allows them to relax and evolve. You might start the day by taking a few long, deep abdominal breaths to kick-start the practice of breath awareness and get you ready to face with day with poise and composure.
3. Take Some Time For Yourself
In our busy, connected world, practicing yoga gives us a much needed time and space to take a break from the outside world and do something for ourselves. When we have this space, we can allow ourselves to stop constantly thinking about and comparing ourselves to others, and instead, conjure all of the strength we need within. Doing this, however, requires that we create short periods of quiet, alone time where we feel safe checking in with ourselves. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this!
Wake up a few minutes earlier than you usually do and enjoy the quiet morning in solitude.
Do a 10-minute restorative yoga pose before bed to relax and unwind.
Leave for work a few minutes early and spend that time meditating or breathing consciously in your car before you rush into the office.
Feel free to create that ‘you’ time whenever and wherever you can outside of the yoga studio.