Yoga might not change the circumstances or troubles that you face in life, but it will definitely change the way you perceive or react to situations.
Yoga is being practiced across the globe today for its ability to positively impact body and mind. The beauty of asana practice is that is can be gentle enough for beginners, and challenging and strength building for those who look for a more intense practice. Whether your goal in 2018 is fitness, spiritual growth or stress relief, yoga will definitely help you achieve these goals.
So how can we incorporate yoga into our everyday life?
Begin your day with Sun Salutations :
- Have you tried practicing sun salutation as the first rays of the sun touches the earth? It is a wonderful experience. The body comes alive and you feel energized. Incorporate 5-6 sun salutations, moving with awareness and breath. It is a great way to start the day.
Practice a yoga pose during the day:
- Pause whatever you are doing, take a deep breath and do your favorite asana: Hold the forearm plank, or break into the Warrior series, sit on an imaginary chair to practice Utkatasan or Chair pose.
- Hold for 5 breaths, release.
- Repeat or resume your routine.
- If you highly stressed or tired towards the end of the day, try child pose/Balasana.
Incorporate seated yogic stretches during break time.
Usually known as Chair Yoga, these are great to get the energy moving in the body. Below are some of my favourite stretches:
- Do these with slow movements feeling stretch in each and every part of the neck
- Repeat 5 times and reverse the direction of movement.
Seated side stretch
- Inhale, lengthen the upper torso away from the waist, as you reach the right arms up and to the left and feel the stretch on the right side
- Repeat on the other side.
Seated Cat & Cow:
- Sitting firmly in your chair, move the upper body as you would in cat and cow.
- Inhale, lengthen the spine (including the neck) upwards. From here, ease into a gentle backbend, as you open the front torso. Feel the stretch across the belly, chest and the shoulders.
- As you exhale, curl up the front of the body, as you round the back and feel the stretch on the back.
- Let the arms hold the arm rests for support
- Repeat 4-5 times slowly with awareness.
- Sitting firmly on the chair, inhale as you find length in your upper torso and spine.
- Exhale, twist your body to the right, keeping the shoulders even.
- Keep the eyes closed and hold for 5 breaths
- Repeat on the other side.
Seated, forward fold
- Sitting firmly on the chair, lengthen the upper torso.
- Pull the navel in gently, the reach forward with your arms as you try to rest the chest on the thighs.
- Release the arms to the ground, let the chest rest on the thighs and the head and neck relax.
- Keep your right arm on the belly.
- As you inhale, expand the belly
- Exhale, release.
- Repeat for 5-10 breaths.
If weather permits, take your practice outside.
- The best way to practice yoga is outdoors in the open. Aim to take your practice outdoors at least once a week.
Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine:
- Be completely present in whatever you do. We try to achieve a lot at one time, which can be counterproductive. How many of us check the phone or watch television while someone is talking to us? Try to do one thing at a time with full attention.
Look beyond the physical benefits of yoga:
- Yoga is so much more than asana practice. Explore, research and see how you can expand beyond the asana.
- Try to incorporate the yamas and niyamas into your daily life.
- You can begin with Santosha, or contentment; being content with who you are and where you are in your journey of life.
Practice self love
- Understand what your body needs, eat the right kind of food. Look at your diet and clean it up. Try to eat out less, cook healthy food more. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.
- Many fail to try the asana practice because of fear of stepping out of comfort zone. Let go of your fears, stop worrying about the results. As Guruji Sri Pattabhi Jois said: ” Practice and all is coming”.
- Thoughts like : “I am too heavy”, “I am not flexible”, etc can put people off yoga. Please remember that no one is born flexible and strong. Everyone has to start at the beginning. Respect and accept where you are in your practice and enjoy the journey.
Enrol into a yoga class close to you:
- It takes 21 days to establish a routine and a lot more to commit to a daily practice. The best way to start is to enroll into a class. This will give you structure and routine.
- Remember, it is easier to follow through if the classes are close to where you live or work.
- Keep your eyes open for free sessions being provided in your area.
Take time to meditate.
- You can use a variety of simple meditation techniques. The easiest one is to focus on the breath with eyes closed. If your mind tends to wander, count your inhales or exhales. If you lose your count, start over again.
- Music is a great tool to calm the mind. Try meditation with music. It will immediately help you unwind and relax.
Explore different teachers and styles:
- Explore, explore, explore: We have the traditional Hatha yoga, still practiced in its original form. Hatha is also practiced with props and variations to suit present day body types and lifestyle.
- In addition, you will find the strict yet fulfilling practice of Ashtanga; elaborate, accurate and alignment focused Iyengar yoga; fun filled, creative and dynamic vinyasas, and oh so many more styles. Try out the various methods to find what clicks for you.
Understand your learning style and find a teacher who can support that style:
- We all have our unique way of learning: Some are visual learners, while others learn through oral instructions. Some prefer or learn better through tactile methods or hands on modifications. Hence, even within these traditions and styles of Yoga , an instructor can make or break your practice. Choose your instructor wisely.
Do you have any more ideas on how we can incorporate yoga for the coming year? Please feel free to comment below.
Hema Laxman, RYT 200
Owner, Flamingo Yoga & Wellness