Many people practice yoga as a physical practice. This was true for me when I started practicing yoga.
I didn’t understand the spiritual element of yoga and I would go to a class to enjoy stretching. I started to connect with the spiritual element of yoga when I started my yoga teacher training.
I don’t usually teach the spiritual element in my beginners class as I want my students to enjoy practicing yoga as a physical practice first. I believe that the spiritual side will come to you naturally when you are ready, when the time is right.
Whether you are interested in the spiritual element of yoga or the physical practice, don’t restrict practicing yoga just on your “mat” in the class. There are so many ways you can integrate “yoga” in your daily life. In fact, as my teacher always tells me, you are actually practicing yoga in your daily life already without noticing.
For example, when you stretch in the morning reaching your arms up above your head – (extended mountain pose) or even when you are lying on the bed (relaxation pose, Savasana). These are some of “yoga” postures you may be doing during the day without realising it, and there are more postures you can practice “off the mat” in your daily routine. Become more aware of your movement during the day. Making a small change to how you move, stand, sit and breathe will make a huge difference physically and mentally.
Be mindful with your posture and breath … here are few small changes I started to make in my daily routine.
If you are standing on your train/bus journey, try standing straight maintaining even weight on each foot (not taking your weight to one side), with your shoulders drawled back and your belly zipped up. It’s a great way to strengthen your core as well as your legs whilst keeping balance in a moving train!
Be mindful of how you sit at your desk in a working environment or on the train/bus. I used to cross my legs all the time when I get the seat on the train. I’ve started become more mindful with my seated posture and have my both feet firmly on the floor and sit deep with my back straight.
At my desk in a working environment is a little trickier. As you get more into your work, typing on the keyboard and reading your documents on the screen in front of you, your back starts to round and shoulder roll forward, your feet hanging off the seat and legs crossed. I do this without thinking and it is so easy to flow into your comfortable position which you have been used for years and years.
Every 10 minutes have a short pause in between your work and take a deep breath and adjust your posture. Sit deep into your seat with your back straight, draw your shoulders back and lengthen your neck.
When I feel stressed out, I always go back to focusing on my breaths. It really works for me and it takes me back to a peaceful place. So try this next time. When you feel stressed, pressured or tired, take a break from what you are currently doing and start focusing on your breath. Take three deep breaths and take your awareness into your present moment. Listen to your own breathing and you will find your thoughts calm. Then go back to your work.
These are really simple things you can do anywhere, anytime during the day. Being mindful about small things you do in your daily routine really makes a huge difference in how you feel and how you react to things in your life. So give it a go and see how you feel!