You’ve probably all seen the hashtag somewhere on social media. Usually alongside beautiful super bendy yogis displaying awe-inspiring asana practices -- which are truly inspirational and show us what is possible if you commit to practicing #yogaeveryday.
We also need to remember though, that yoga is about far more than just asana and there are many, many ways you can make your yoga practice part of your everyday life. Sometimes it’s in taking your yoga off your mat and into your world that the biggest shifts and changes take place.
Here are just five ways that no matter what your situation, you can make yoga part of your life and live it every day.
1. Practice Mindfulness
The time you spend on your mat is there to teach you; to teach you patience, compassion, persistence, dedication, self-belief, and kindness to name just a few. So it surely makes sense that to live your yoga, you need to take these same qualities off your mat and into your life.
Over the next few weeks, make a concerted effort to live mindfully and display the very best qualities of yoga in your day-to-day life. The yamas, the very first limb of yoga, ask us to "do to others as you would have them do to you," so notice what triggers you and instead of automatically reacting, step back, take a breath, and choose to be kind rather than always right.
Practice patience and compassion in situations that would usually test your boundaries. Become aware of all the little voices in your head that tell you that you can’t do this and that, and find the self-belief and confidence that you need to follow a great opportunity or big dream. Become truly present, aware of yourself, and conscious of all of your actions and reactions on a daily basis, and work to becoming the very best version of yourself that you can be.
This is yoga.
2. Take a Quiet Moment
I know the word meditation fills many people with pre-conceived ideas, dread, or declarations of "I can’t meditate," so why not instead take just a few moments each day to be in silence?
The fifth limb of yoga, pratyahara, means sense withdrawal and simply asks you to take your awareness away from the outside world and external stimulation. Find somewhere comfortable to sit where you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes, take a few deeps breaths, and allow yourself some time out to simply be. For however long you are able to, even if it’s only a few minutes, simply sit and follow your inhale and exhale. Every time you notice your mind wander, simply guide your focus back into your breath.
These few moments done every day will allow inspiration to flood in, stress to be released, and will transform your life in so many beneficial ways.
The best time to do this is first thing in the morning before your day really begins, or last thing at night as your day comes to a close, but the benefits can be enjoyed anywhere, at any time. Don’t underestimate the power of a few moments of silence every day.
I know that we breathe all day, every day or we wouldn’t be here, but I mean really breathe! Most of us don’t breathe properly at all, and quite often breathe in an unconscious, shallow way that actually increases stress in the body.
Pranayama, the fourth limb of yoga, translates to control of the breath and aims to give you increased wellbeing, a calm mind, and increased Prana, the vital life force energy.
Try a few full, deep, mindful breaths once or twice a day breathing in through your nose right from the bottom of your abdomen. You can also add a count to your breath, breathing in and out for a count of maybe 5 or 6. If you feel incredibly stressed and overwhelmed, try making the exhalation longer, as this will slow your heart rate down and relax your nervous system. Or try holding the breath between inhaling and exhaling for a few moments to really increase the benefits.
Feel the life force within you and allow the breath to infuse your body, calm your mind, and warm your heart. Notice how calm and centered you feel after just a few simple, mindful breaths.
4. Get Out in Nature
Nature is one of our greatest healers and teachers. As the word yoga itself means complete, union, or connectedness with everything, it makes total sense to me that yoga is nature and nature is yoga.
Time in nature helps us to know that we are truly alive and part of something so much greater. Nature also teaches us just about everything we need to know about how to be strong yet fluid, how to let go and go with the flow, how to blossom into your full potential -- you never see nature struggling or gripping hold of things it no longer needs, and you certainly never see nature playing small and not growing into its full beauty and potential.
With city living and modern day technology, many of us have lost this deep connection with the earth and nature. As often as you can, step outside, plant your feet on the earth, and take a deep breath. Connect back into the earth, the rhythm and the flow, the change of the seasons and the yoga (union) with everything around you.
5. Start a Self-Practice
Ok, we can’t ignore asana altogether! What a self-practice does is put you in control of when, where, and what your practice consists of. Try an hour long morning Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga practice when you are feeling full of life, or a half an hour evening Yin or Restorative practice after a long, hard day, or when you need to be nourished. You may not have time for a class that day, but even 15 minutes of self-practice will make the greatest difference to your mindset and how you feel.
A self-practice helps you to tune in to how you feel in each and every moment and give yourself just what it is that you need in that moment, which is the true gift of yoga.
Your practice doesn’t have to be a full hour practice to count. Some days, a 20 minute Savasana will do you more good than anything at all. So tune in, get to know yourself, and in some way, shape, or form get on your mat and do a little yoga every day -- the difference will be obvious in no time at all.
How do you incorporate yoga into your life every day? Share with us below!