One of my clients came for a session recently after taking a long break from yoga. She had been busy with work and travel and at the start of our class together, lamented her long break from practice. When we were done, she came up from savasana and said, “You know, I realized that even though I haven’t been on the mat in a while, I’ve still felt yoga in my body the whole time.”
I thought about what we can do to stay in touch with our yoga practice when we can’t always make it to the mat. Here are 10 simple ways to try:
1. Feel the earth beneath your feet.
Every yoga pose begins with your foundation. When you stand, ground yourself by really feeling your feet. As you move throughout your day, try moving with intention.
2. Slow things down and breathe deeply.
Rushing around through life with anxiety and stress increases our blood pressure, heart rate and pace of breath. Instead try stopping yourself several times a day, and take a few deep breaths to reconnect to your body.
3. Keep your gaze soft and focused as you go about your day.
The desired gaze of any yoga practice is soft and focused, known as “drishti.” Use this not only as you go about your work, but as you move throughout your day. Be aware of what’s going on around you but stay connected to your center.
4. Take the time to meditate, if only for a few minutes.
Try to devote five minutes a day to meditating. Use a mantra, make a wish, and connect to your dreams. Don't have five minutes? Start by simply taking a few deep breaths.
5. Follow your own path, not somebody else's.
We are bombarded with so much information every minute of every day, which can lead us to question our plans and path. Stay committed to what you have set out to do, even if society or someone in particular makes you think you should question your goals.
6. Be genuine in your interactions with everyone you encounter.
While the challenge to stay on our own path can be daunting, so is the challenge to stay true and authentic in our interactions with others. This could apply to conversations with friends and family, business interactions and even posts to social media.
7. Notice your feelings instead of pretending they aren't there.
Just as we need to be compassionate with ourselves as we practice, especially if we’re injured, we need to practice it in our lives off the mat. This could be forgiving ourselves for a mistake we’ve made in a relationship or a business dealing, or that we allow ourselves to feel sadness over something we’ve lost.
8. Practice forgiveness by forgiving yourself first.
Forgiving others starts with the ability to forgive ourselves. Let go of the grudges, resentment, jealously and anger you harbor. As these feelings arise, connect to your heart and see if you can release the grip they have on your body and mind. Do this for your own physical health and mental well-being.
9. Remember to take a break when you need it.
In our fast paced world, it’s difficult to remember to take a break. The rallying cry of “I’m so busy!” is commonly used as a reason for stress and lack of sleep, bordering on a cry for help and attention. Like practicing compassion, taking a break can be one of the most compassionate things you can do for yourself and others around you.
You'll find that your performance at work will be more productive and your relationships will improve. Whether it's only for a day, a few days or even a matter of hours — you will definitely feel the impact of taking some quality YOU time.
10. Honor yourself with gratitude.
Your yoga practice is a way to honor yourself, your uniqueness and your authenticity. Take some time each day to appreciate your gifts and talents that you have to offer the world. Acknowledge the achievements of each day with gratitude, as you settle in for the night. Reward yourself for a job well done, you deserve it!