It’s fantastic when we can get to a studio, unroll our mat, and begin our practice. There is nothing like being surrounded by like-minded individuals to set our heart and mind straight. The physical postures (asanas) bring an exercise for the body. They help to tone, lengthen, and improve the function of various muscles and organs within the body. Asanas also bring us a great sense of peace and surrender, unlike anything we have experienced before. I personally have trouble describing the affects in words. But what most people don’t realize is that there is more to yoga than just the asanas, there is yoga to be done, off of our mats.
Yoga can be practiced anywhere. And the skills that we learn while on the mat, can be adapted to every day situations. We no longer need to limit our practice to the four walls in our community studio. If yoga isn’t just physical postures, then what is it? Quite simply, yoga can be everything we do. Meaning, it is the words we speak, the food we choose to eat, the thoughts we think, the actions we display. Everything we do, can become an act of yoga. It is almost our duty as yogis to bring this light and love into our communities. Yoga is such a gift, to not share it with others should be a crime. Live your yoga through your everyday actions and responsibilities.
Try these exercises to develop a yogic lifestyle, off the mat. Be present for others; The next time you are in line at the super market or cafe, get off the cell phone. Be totally available and present to the store associate that is serving you. Ask them how they are, and connect for a few seconds. You’ll immediately life their spirits, and make them feel appreciated. Adopt a vegetarian diet; Practicing vegetarianism has a strong impact on the environment, the animals of this planet, and your body. You are also observing Ahimsa (simply meaning to do no harm), one of the yamas. There are plenty of cookbooks and information nowadays to guide you on a safe and healthy path to clean eating. Speak no gossip; Try to go a day without talking negatively about others. Notice if it is hard or easy to do. Too many people spend too much time socializing about others. That energy and time could be spent in a positive and uplifting way. In this exercise we practice right speech, loving speech. Listen, listen, listen; Many times we are too busy thinking of our tasks to accomplish or what we want to say, rather than listening to people. The next time someone speaks to you, practice active listening. You can do this by pretending that once the person is done talking, your task will be to repeat everything they just said to you. This is quite a challenge, but very necessary if we truly wish to hear another, completely. There are hundreds of additional ways to practice yoga within your life. Can you think of more examples? Most of all, when in doubt or at a cross road, turn to the Yamas and Niyamas. Also ask yourself, “what’s the loving thing to do?”