Sprinkle the Spirit of Yoga into Your Everyday Life
When I went to my first yoga class, I fell in love. In hindsight, I realize how yoga had a huge impact on my life. Yoga not only provided me with tools for coping with stress but also with life skills that made a big difference in my life.
Many years later, as I became a yoga teacher, I would always tell my students, “Yoga is not just something you do three to four times a week. It’s about what you learn on the mat and how you apply it to your daily life.
Don’t “do” yoga, live your yoga.”
For most people, the word “yoga” conjures up the image of physical exercise, being very flexible and twisting into a pretzel. In essence, yoga not only builds strength, flexibility, and balance in your body but also for your inner mind and soul. Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root word meaning “to yoke or to unite.” The practice of yoga is meant to create union between body, mind and soul.
Practicing yoga deepens your relationship with your body and mind, as well as helping you find the spiritual in everyday life. It forms the foundation of a practical philosophy for living life. Yoga teaches us about who we are and how to engage in our everyday routines. Everything we learn in yoga we have the opportunity to practice in life, from how we move, breathe, think, and act.
Let’s take a look at how to take yoga off the mat and carry the benefits into your life.
Connecting with your Body
Practicing the yoga poses (Asanas) helps you gain greater awareness of your body, your alignment, and how you move. This allows you to make the necessary adjustments, release unnecessary tensions, and come back to the centre of balance. There are so many benefits for your overall physical health and wellbeing.
Yoga keeps you forever young. There is a saying in yoga: “You’re as young as your back is flexible.” Recent research found that people who practiced yoga on a regular basis showed health improvements on many levels: increased flexibility, strengthened the heart, reduced blood pressure, improved sleeping patterns, encouraged a healthier metabolism, better pain management, and stress relief, to name a few.
As you gently stretch your muscles, you become more flexible. You also learn how to keep an open mind in dealing with everyday decisions and challenges. Yoga teaches you how to be more resilient by becoming more adaptable and being able to spring back. Yoga helps you cope with change and recover from difficulties.
As you teach your body to let go of tension, you become more relaxed. Doctors tell their patients that they need to relax, but nobody ever teaches you how to relax. To lead a more relaxed lifestyle, you need to train your body and mind how to relax. Yoga offers relaxation techniques to help you deal with stress, which, if left untreated, can bring on more health problems and lead to other chronic conditions.
The physical postures cultivate self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-care. There is no competition in yoga. You will always perform better than the last time you practiced the pose. Do not strain and force yourself into a pose, but rather, use your breath and relax into the posture. You will learn more and stretch further. Just like in life, you need a little patience, especially when you are faced with challenges. Resistance makes things harder, so learn how to relax and go with the flow, and things will work out. There is no reason to be stressed or to compare yourself to others. Don’t be afraid to try new things and give yourself permission to fail. If you fall, just get back up and try again.
If you remain consistent and committed to your yoga practice, it will eventually spill over the mat and into your life, offering you the structure and energy to become stronger.
Connecting with your Breath
We can live without food for a few months and without water for a few days, but when it comes to air, you cannot live without it for more than a few minutes. Breathing is the very essence of life, yet how many people have poor breathing habits? For starters, most people are not even aware of their breathing until they catch a cold and their noses are blocked.
Breathing exercises anchor the body, mind, and soul in the present moment. We focus on our breath while doing the postures and breathing exercises, both of which help us slow down our body, free up our racing mind, and ease us into relaxation and meditation.
Breathing teaches you about how you are feeling and your emotions. Have you ever noticed when you are stressed, how your body is tense and your breath is shallow and fast? Your feelings affect your breathing, so why not use your breath to influence your body and mind?
By breathing slowly and deeply, you can shut down the stress response in your body and tap into the relaxation response. Your body, breath, and mind have such a strong connection.
Pay attention and notice how you can apply your breath in difficult situations.
To have a positive impact on your psych-physiological health, start regulating your breath to help calm the nervous system and the overthinking mind, relax your muscles, reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, increase energy levels, and improve your overall mood.
The foundation of yoga is the breathing exercises (Pranayamas). There are many different breathing techniques that help you control your breath and deepen your physical practice. The quality and flow of your breath will deepen your awareness and make you feel more clear-headed, centered, and calm. Use your breath to help you push through those tough moments, poses, and emotions.
Connecting with your Mind
Meditation is important in developing a more mindful approach to life by forming the basis for being calm, focused, centered, and present. The more you quiet the mind, the more you start learning about yourself, and the more you will start discovering more about yourself. You will gain greater confidence along with more mental strength and energy, as well as learn to respond instead of reacting to life events, all of which are more conducive to inner peace, joy, and harmony.
Meditation quiets the mind, enhances inner peace, develops better concentration, improves communication, promotes mental and emotional health, and rejuvenates the body as it becomes filled with more energy (Prana = life force).
Yoga creates space for you and reminds you to pause during the day and take short breaks: checking in by taking a breath, checking your posture, checking on how you are feeling, standing up and stretching out.
Turn inwards and align the power of your breath, body, and mind so you can remain grounded and, at the same time, connected to a higher consciousness. Improve the quality of your life and live it with grace and a more positive outlook.
Take a yoga class. Learn how to be present. Let yoga navigate you through life, especially in those difficult moments.
Go beyond the mat and transform your life!