How to practice and incorporate yoga, even off of the mat

Many people think that yoga is solely a physical practice, in which one must master an asana (yoga pose) in order to be an effective yogi. Well, today is your lucky day because I am here to tell you that’s definitely not true.

Many of us do attend a yoga class to feel and look good. Once one truly gets into the realms of yoga, they will start to notice subtle changes within their actions, thoughts, and observations. When you attend yoga class, the first thing that you may notice that the instructor tells you during the centering portion is to focus on your breath, be mindful when linking breath with movement, listen to your body throughout the practice, as well as to take the focus inward. This act of “mindfulness” will start to shift from your practice on the mat, and eventually into your daily lives..

If you start practicing yoga on a daily basis, in which you are moving in a mindful way to link breath with movement, than you will start to get accustomed to mindfulness. And mindfulness is important when making crucial decisions which may affect our body, mind, and spirit. If one in mindful, than they are truly aware of whom they are and what works best for them. Below are a few ways in which one can incorporate mindfulness, the act of yoga, even when your off the mat.

A.) In your daily diet- In yoga, one is aware of their breath. It can be quite interesting when we take those practices and apply them to our daily diet. When mindful of what we put into our bodies, we tend to avoid nutrients which will not benefit us, holistically, and tend to turn the other direction. This is why, in my opinion, many yogis eat a wholesome diet. They want to nourish their bodies with nutrient dense items to help them shine both on and off the yoga mat.

B.) Our daily relationships- It is safe to say that in one’s life, a person is going to have multiple relationships, including the one that they have with themselves. We may be married, have children, be close with our parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, coworkers, and so on. We must act mindful when dealing with others. We should act mindful in our attitudes and conversations with others. We must be aware of other peoples feelings and emotions so that we can act accordingly. If we are unable to understand and be mindful of others reactions, we may fail at our relationships. Acceptance and acting in a non-judgmental manner is a main facet of mindfulness. We must accept ourselves and others for who they are, and never try to compare yourself or anyone else to anybody. That’s just not cool. We also must understand ourselves to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. For instance, if we feel tired, we rest. If we are hungry, we eat. If we need a break, than we take it. If we are not mindful of our own thoughts, feelings, and emotions than we may never live life to the fullest. We have to accept and appreciate ourselves. If not, we will live our lives constantly comparing ourselves to other people and that will result in a depressing and angry life. Always remembering that everyone achieves different things at different times, and that everyone walks in their own path, can be a helpful factor with mindfulness. We must act and practice acceptance and awareness in all of our relationships.

C.) Anxiety and Depression- It is quite common, especially in this hectic world, to constantly feel bombarded and overwhelmed by thoughts and tasks. Mindfulness teaches us to slow down and take those negative thoughts and emotions and use it in a more productive way. For instance, once you start feeling bombarded by all of the tasks that you think you need to accomplish today, take a moment, sit still, and focus on the breath coming in and out of your body. If you try something like this, than you may find yourself more serene and productive when you need to get back to work. Also, accepting that we cannot do more than we can in a given moment is mindfulness. Understanding that we should love ourselves for who we are, rather than pushing ourselves to the limit, can result in a happy and balanced lifestyle.

Now you see that yoga has wonderful benefits, both on and off the mat. If we continue to practice yoga, meditation, and pranayama, than we will eventual use such positive tactics in our everyday lives. So now stop, take a moment, focus on the breath, and practice self love!