One of the most beautiful aspects of yoga is that it provides the perfect platform from which to reach out to others and give back, enabling you to develop your spirituality while serving others.
Taking your yoga practice off your mat and into your life does not mean you are expected to do yoga poses in the line at Woolies! When we talk about taking yoga into our lives we are referring to maintaining that ‘yoga high’ – the sense of peace, calmness and happiness that you feel after your session.
Yoga is the ultimate stress tonic and our yoga mat is our own island of peaceful paradise. Wouldn’t it be lovely to bottle up the feelings you get from being on your yoga mat and have a ‘take-away’ of focus, serenity and glow to dip into anytime during the day when you might need it most.
Well, you can!
By practising the principles of yoga off your mat and living the yogic lifestyle, you not only get the physical benefits of stretching your body and mind in your yoga class, but can also cultivate a calm and positive outlook, connect with flow, and be more mindful and present in your daily life as well.
Here are some ways to return to the simple things, clear your mind, detox your life, and create space for serenity – even in the craziest and busiest of circumstances.
TAKE DEEP BREATHS
Before doing anything (reacting, getting angry, feeling emotional), before you do anything at all, take a moment to take a few deep breaths. Inhale for four counts and then exhale for four counts. Do this at least three times and then choose how you would like to respond.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY’S MESSAGES
When you are in your yoga session, you know how important it is to listen to your body. If you are not aware of how you feel in each posture or how your body is responding to your movements, then you could push yourself beyond your boundaries and, even worse, injure yourself. In life this is no different. Be aware of your stress levels and how they are affecting you physically. If you are pushing yourself too hard and too far, your body will respond by getting ill. So listen to the signs before your stress becomes harmful.
When we are on our yoga mats we experience cleansing movements, twists and postures that eliminate toxins and purify our body. So when you are off your mat it is counter-intuitive to fill your body with junk. By eating clean and organic, using naturally made home-cleaning products, spending time with people who make you happy, and doing work that feeds your soul – by living clean – you welcome Zen into your life rather than toxic, heavy energy.
Savasana is often presented as the most important, and yet most difficult, yoga posture included in a class. At the end of each session this relaxation pose is where all the benefits of the yoga postures integrate into your body. Therefore, it makes sense that it is also important to ‘take rest’ in your daily life (not just when we are sleeping or lying in Savasana). Tap into those tranquil feelings by taking moments throughout your day to unwind, tone down, renew and simply be.
HAVE A TECHNOLOGY DETOX
In our yoga sessions, we allow ourselves to switch off our phones and just be present. Spend small moments each day doing this off your mat as well. Blocking out technological distractions opens up occasions where you can rather integrate ‘me-time’ moments into your day or fully-present-human-interaction time with your loved ones.
Experiencing a yin yoga session when your body is exhausted is the best gift you can give yourself. Not just because you are on your mat but also because you are being kind to YOU! Being kind, nurturing, compassionate and being gentle on yourself, as you go about your day, is a sure way to let go of criticism and self-doubt and allow positive feelings and abundance to flow.
Read yoga and self-empowerment books, watch inspiring videos, follow YouTube yoga gurus. By knowing and applying the ancient knowledge and wisdom into your life, you can deal with everyday stress, stay inspired, and become the best version of yourself.
DON’T FORGET YOUR MAT
Of course, all of these ‘off the mat’ tips are much easier to sustain if we are engaging in a regular yoga asana practice as well. Yes, it is challenging; we are not going to get it right all the time. We know that yoga is a lifelong practice; however these few yoga lifestyle tips allow us to navigate tricky day-to-day situations with a little more insight and compassion than we had before.
So, the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or pushes in the line at the shops, take a deep breath and respond in a way that keeps you centred, calm and maintains your ‘yoga high’ intact.
Editor's note: Another fun read by Sharni is this one on the act of selfless service Seva Yoga – giving back