Wondering how to incorporate yoga into your life on a daily basis? As we know it today in the Western world, yoga consists of a 60- to 90-minute class in which participants flow through a series of poses. This provides a fantastic workout and helps us to connect deeply to our bodies and our breath.
The physical aspects of yoga are great, but they are just one piece of a much bigger puzzle. True yoga is about calming your chattering mind, practicing presence, and uniting yourself to a higher consciousness. The physical asanas are merely a path that helps to unite us with our spiritual selves.
Bringing yoga off of the mat and into your everyday life is a powerful – and surprisingly simple – practice. You don’t need to don a turban or swap your office chair for a meditation cushion. True yoga is an inside job. The following tips can help to bring a little “Om” into your everyday life.
How to Incorporate Yoga Into Your Life
Ah, the simplest things truly are the most effective. In yoga, we practice uniting the breath with movement, because the breath is truly the key component for a healthy body and mind. You can practice yoga anywhere simply by taking a few deep and steady breaths.
You should notice an instant calm come over you. To experiment, take a few moments of quick, nervous, shallow breathing and then follow it up with full, deep breaths. Notice the difference in your mood and energy? This is the power of yoga in action.
While you may spend Savasana planning out your grocery list or what you will do with the rest of your day, in its truest form, yoga is meant to be spent experiencing the present. The asanas provide you with a physical focal point to ground you in the Now.
You can practice this same presence in every day life by putting your attention on your current surroundings and enjoying the moment, rather than planning or stressing about the past or present. Notice the smells in the air, the feeling of your computer keys under your fingers, or the beautiful colors in your shirt. Grounding yourself in the now by observing your physical sensations is a surefire way to experience peace and calm.
You may have heard yoga teachers mention something called Aparigraha, which translates to non-attachment. It’s easy to get so fixated on a desired possession or outcome that we lose sight of what it is we are truly here for, which is to love and know love.
In a yoga class, attachment may manifest as beating yourself up for not nailing a handstand or failing to clear your mind in meditation. In daily life, it may be fixating on attaining a certain body shape, partner, salary, or possession.
Yoga reminds us to release our attachment to desires – not because it is wrong to want things, but because what we are truly looking for is happiness and love. Recognizing that these things can only be found within is true liberation.
Breathe, be present, and appreciate all that you have without latching on to what you don’t. That’s how to incorporate yoga into your life. These simple practices can revolutionize not only your yoga practice, but your whole existence.
Bonus Tip: Find the Courage to be Vulnerable
Have you ever caught yourself in a never-ending cycle of ‘I’m not enough -ness?’ In a world where pop culture and social media call the shots, it’s easy to get caught up in the Land of Comparison.
We have films, music, and now even our ‘friends’ telling us how we should look, act, and live; and all of this sends us down a tunnel of shame. We become ashamed of who we are and who we have the capacity to be. We spend our days trying to become who we think we should be, instead of simply being ourselves.
Where does this shame come from? Why do we submit to the standards of the rest of the world? We convince ourselves that we aren’t good enough. We are taught humility, and somewhere along the way, humility turns into unworthiness. We are taught to love others as ourselves, but what about learning to love ourselves first?
Without this kind of love, we are unable to truly love another. And so shame saunters into our minds and wards off any trace of love we have for ourselves, therefore hindering our ability to love anyone else fully. So where do we go from here?
We must be willing to feel. We were never taught to feel. Instead, we’re taught that showing any form of ourselves that isn’t happiness, is bad. This is where shame is born. When a woman gets angry, we call her crazy; when a man weeps, we call him weak. In truth, these emotions are what it is to be human. And in order to embrace our humanness completely, we absolutely must be willing to be vulnerable.
We fight vulnerability a lot of the time because it forces us to feel. We often feel pain when we love someone so much, be it our partner, child, or friend, and we recoil our love. But that pain is simply our resistance to feel. Love isn’t painful, neither is anger nor heartache.
What’s painful is our resistance to those feelings. It’s fear surrounding our truest selves. Because being vulnerable is to show our authentic selves to those around us, to connect with each other. And that’s ultimately what this life is about, connection.
Real connections come from unequivocal vulnerability. We need this vulnerability to live the lives we were meant to live. Yes, with vulnerability comes uncertainty, confusion, fear; but it also comes with openness, bliss, and love. If we truly want to find joy in our lives, we must be willing to live with our hearts wide open. We must have the courage to be boldly and shamelessly ourselves.
What we give to the world is what we will receive from it. Expose your heart, fall into fear, and throw all of your shame away. We are all deserving of a full and happy life. Each and every one of us has all the tools we need to live in exactly the way we dream of doing.
Find the courage to be vulnerable. This might mean getting your heart broken or making a fool out of yourself. It’s going to be hard; do it anyway. You might find yourself becoming the person you always knew you could be.
Text contributed by Kate Horodyski, a freelance writer and traveler based in Halifax, Canada; and Anna Schoener, a yoga instructor living in Malmo, Sweden.