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.
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. These simple practices can revolutionize not only your yoga practice, but your whole life.
Kate Horodyski is a freelance writer and traveller based in Halifax, Canada. You can find her on Instagram at @myspiritualroadtrip.