Caley Alyssa is an international yoga teacher whose practice helped her transform her life and realize her dreams. This week, we’re sharing her expertise on how you can start your own practice or deepen your existing one. To learn more, check out her new mindbodygreen course, 28 Days To Yoga Bliss: The Fundamentals, Poses, And Breathwork You Need To Know.
When I ask people why they don't practice yoga, the answer I most often get is "Because I'm not flexible."
But avoiding something because you're not good at it doesn't do you any favors! In fact, in inhibits you from personal growth and learning new things. The exact same reason you shouldn't do it is actually why you should.
If you don't know how to tie your shoes, you learn. Almost no one grows up wearing only Velcro shoes in order to avoid those scary old shoelaces, right?
More than the avoidance of yoga because we aren't flexible, the yogic lifestyle as a whole can be rather intimidating. We've all see those yogis drinking their green juice, wearing organic clothing made from hemp, and driving around in their battery-powered Prius while chanting "Om Shanti" at the top of their lungs!
OK, OK, so this is a pretty intense stereotype. But these images do instill fear in some people who are unfamiliar with the practice and all of the positive changes it can catalyze in our lives. The practice of yoga, in general, results in an overall mindfulness and awareness of everything around you, including YOU! From the way you speak, to the food you eat, the people you surround yourself with, and the activities you participate in...once you begin to get into the practice, you may start to notice little changes.
So, what are some ways you can begin to live like a yogi, off of your yoga mat and out in your day-to-day life? Here are a few easy ones to get you well on your way. Start with these and the rest will follow:
1. Slow down.
Take time to actually taste the food you're eating! Actually smell the roses as you walk by them! Take a bath, lie in the grass, and feel the sunshine on your face...whatever the case may be, learn how to live more fully and presently in the moment. Enjoy all the little sweet things life has to offer us.
2. Treat your food as medicine.
Because it is! The food you put inside of you becomes a part of you. What will make you feel AMAZING and operate at your highest possible levels? How will the food you're eating make you feel later on? You only get this one body, so treat it with loving kindness by filling it with the highest quality, most nutritious foods possible. This includes being aware of where your food comes from. For example, eating pasture-raised eggs instead of cage-free, or buying organic produce instead of conventional. Now we are taking into account the health of our environment, as well as our bodies! They go hand in hand.
3. Rest. Or don't.
Your body is extremely intelligent. It will tell you when it's low on energy and needs to rest. It will also let you know when it has excessive energy and wants to move. Learn to listen to your body, notice these messages, and act in accordance with your needs.
So often throughout the day, our breath can get shallow and even quick. Try to remember to notice your breath throughout the day. See if you can slow it down a bit—maybe even deepen it, too. Once you learn to become aware of your breathing, you might also notice a positive side effect: Your mind starts to get a little less frantic and chaotic. This is a great tool to use if you're even feeling stressed out or anxious. Focus on your breathing and slow. it. down.