10 Ways to Carry the Benefits of Yoga Off the Mat
Many people might scoff at the traditional foundations of yoga (i.e. the most recent trend offering Rage Yoga); however, these traditions are part of the foundation for very good reason. That’s not to say that taking a Rage Yoga class (or maybe even a Reggae Yoga class, if I were teaching) isn’t any fun or can’t be just what the doctor ordered. BUT, there is rhyme and reason to the “Aums/Oms,” meditation, asanas and relaxing, peaceful music and anything else that might take you out of your daily habits, and perhaps even well outside of your comfort zone.
So just what are all those seemingly long and awkward “Aums/Oms,” meditational “rituals” that you just can’t seem to sit through, and asanas like Corpse pose (Savasana) that make you want to yell, “Ok, I have sh*t to do, can we wrap this up?!” Even regular practitioners of yoga may be partial to certain practices of traditional yoga, asking the questions: Do these practices really help? And, How do these practices benefit me? The answer is YES! And, you can take the knowledge and benefits you receive in the classroom as a guide and tools to use throughout your daily life.
10 Suggestions for Incorporating Your Yoga Practice into your Daily Life
- Savasana (Corpse Pose): Feeling exhausted and your day hasn’t even begun? Or maybe, you’ve been working all day and just need a rest? Finding a quite space at work or home to take 2-5 minutes in Savasana will help to restore energy at a calmer and more relaxed pace, while boosting overall health.
- Pranayama (Breath Work): Some breathing techniques may make you feel a little bit silly sitting in a room full of strangers, but breathing techniques can be used any time, any place to help gain control over feelings of fear, anxiety and/or stress.
- Yoga Nidra (Meditation): Meditation is simply a fancy way of saying a way to calm the nerves and quiet the mind – sounds pretty good right? And, if you do it with focus and intention, you can reap the benefits from a meditation lasting only one minute! My suggestion is to learn to practice before a big test or a work presentation to clear the mind and bring your focus to the present.
- Ideology: In Yoga, your body is a temple, and should be respected and treated as such. However, I also believe that our bodies are like fine European racing automobiles that need proper care to maintain the form, function and power of the vehicle. Just as you would bring the highest offerings to the Gods and pump the highest quality fuel into your sports car, you should also provide your body with the proper nutrition. And, when combined with a regular yoga practice, this leads to an improvement in your overall health and well-being.
- Yoga Twists: Twists in any asana can bring many benefits to your internal, physical, and mental well-being. Many of us deal with digestive upset due to the immense stress loads at home and work. Incorporating a twist while sitting at your desk can actually help improve digestive function, cellular detoxification, maintain spinal rotation, reduction in back pain and even helps to de-stress.
- Asanas for Energy (Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B): Take control of your mornings and choose how you greet the day by practicing a series of asanas to help energize you in the a.m. Set a few moments aside in the morning to focus your intentions on the breath and each asana to gain the greatest benefits. For space all you need is an area approximately the size of your yoga mat (e.g. a hallway).
- Asanas for Relaxation: Many of us find it difficult to sleep, while others fall fast asleep the minute their head hits the pillow. If you happen to be someone who needs a little help winding down from your stressful day, try practicing asanas at home in the evening, such as: Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana), Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana), Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana), Supine Twist, and Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani). Your internal clock will thank you !
- Chakras and Nadis (Energy Points and Energy Channels): Chakras and Nadis are found more in the Kundalini study of yoga; however, understanding when energy is blocked and how to help it flow can be essential in moving fluidly throughout your day. In order to access and balance your chakras and nadis, you can work through various methods of utilizing specific mantras, foods, asanas, colors, etc. to access certain areas of your body (and energy flows) that might be creating problems for you.
- Mantras (e.g. Aum/Om): Mantras are believed to have psychological, spiritual powers and are considered to be sacred, deeply personal rituals. Working to find a mantra that speaks directly to you and whose message you truly believe is essential for the introductions of mantras into your daily life or practice. Design your own personal mantra and use it whenever your internal dialogue begins to waiver, bringing about authentic empowerment for the practitioner.
- Last but certainly not least… your sex life! Think all of that flexibility, stamina and strength that you’re gaining from a regular asana practice is just to make your poses look prettier? Not necessarily. Yes, a regular asana practice will leave you feeling and looking great, but it also throws in additional benefits you might not have thought of. The mind-body connection and confidence gained in conjunction with flexibility, stamina and strength will enhance your bedroom practice!
The world is full of people who are more than willing to help build up the chaos around you, while very few people will help you find the calm in the storm. It’s up to you to help yourself find peace and to empty the chaos from your own mind. Yoga helps one become more aware of the body, mind and spirit connection, creating a direct link of communication between oneself and the universe. Listening to your mind, body and spirit throughout the day—and responding to its requests, not fighting them—will help you live a calmer, quieter, more peaceful existence, starting from within.
Is it important for you to incorporate your yoga practice into your daily life? If so, what are some ways you do this?