Yoga: Off the Mat & Into Your Life

Happy New Year, friends!!

A couples week ago, I was co-hosting an Instagram challenge, and I posed a giveaway question about what people would like to read more about on my blog, and @deeyan1963 won me over with her answer: she wanted to know how to bring yoga "off the mat."

I loved this answer because so many of us, including myself, easily forget that a huge part of yoga is that it makes you a more aware, kind, and socially responsible person, at least in my mind. With that being said, remembering that taking what we learn during yoga class and bringing it into our every day lives, is necessary and beautiful. 

So, my first personal, and easy example of how to bring yoga off the mat, is to be mindful in your tasks. The first example I could think of was cleaning. We all have to do it, and it can feel like a chore for some. But why do people who love cleaning, love cleaning? The answer seems obvious once you think about it. Most of them would say (including me) that cleaning allows you to forget about everything else. When I clean, my mind opens up. I am solely focusing on tidying up. I am not thinking about the million other things that need done, I am cleaning. It consumes my mind, and in that small amount of time, I am mindful. Consequently, I often find after cleaning that I feel more ready to take on the remaining day because my mind has had some time to quiet.

In yoga class we are (hopefully) breathing in the present moment, and being mindful of how we truly feel at that time. So the moral of this story, is that the next you go to do something, whether it's a phone call at work, or in fact, cleaning the house, do it with mindfulness, as you do on your mat. Slow down. Do ONE thing at a time. Think of ONE thing at time. Be present in that exact moment. Be mindful.

Second, the next example I have of how to bring your yoga off the mat, is to practice your breathing. I personally take a heated Vinyasa flow class where we focus on the Ujjayi breath. Now, while this breathing technique is certainly not suitable for all day, every day, it was very useful to me during my recent visit to the MRI machine.

I am a bit claustrophobic, so the idea of going into a coffin-like machine and having to remain absolutely still for 30 minutes was very unsettling. On top of that, my muscles were so sore from my injury. So I told myself that I would simply close my eyes and practice my yoga breathing to keep myself calm. I have to say that I really felt like it helped me relax, release some tension, and as I focused on my breathing, I thought a little less about my difficult external situation. This is a part of what breath is for! BOOM! 

I challenge and encourage you to take more of your yoga teachings with you into 2015! So the next time you're doing a task (or most likely trying to do multiple things at once) or are in an uneasy or stressful situation, take some simple tips from your yoga mat: be mindful and breathe!

                                                   "I am mindful. My breath gives me strength."                                                     Photo cred: Abie Livesay Mat: Yogasana Mats  

                                                   "I am mindful. My breath gives me strength." 

                                                   Photo cred: Abie Livesay Mat: Yogasana Mats