After completing a yoga session, you feel a warm sensation throughout your body, thanks to the positive energy that your practice has just generated. As you relax in savasana, your mind is tranquil and centered, and the issues that seemed so overwhelming before the class now appear less daunting. You take your time to pack up your mat, not wanting to leave the peaceful ambiance just yet. With a renewed sense of strength and vitality, you venture out into the remainder of your day. Although you had to overcome some challenges to make it to class today, you’re happy that you did.
In a mere half hour, you go from feeling serene and centered to being hit with an overwhelming barrage of stressors. Your phone incessantly buzzes with 37 notifications, you’re already running late for an important work meeting, and your temper flares as a reckless driver cuts you off on the highway. Suddenly, all the problems that felt distant and insignificant during yoga class seem to have returned with a vengeance. You can’t help but wonder what happened to that sense of peace and presence that you had so recently experienced, and how you can bring it back amidst the chaos of daily life.
Have you ever left a yoga class feeling completely at peace, only to have that feeling fade away as soon as you step back into the hustle and bustle of daily life? It’s a common experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By taking the principles of mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion that are emphasized in yoga and applying them off the mat, you can cultivate a greater sense of well-being and inner calm. In this post, we’ll explore how you can take these practices off the mat and into your daily routine, so that you can experience the benefits of yoga long after you leave the studio.
Mindfulness Off the Mat
Yoga is a powerful tool for cultivating mindfulness, which is the practice of being present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgment. Mindfulness is important because when we spend too much time worrying about things from the past or the future, we miss out on our experiences as they happen.
During a yoga class, you are encouraged to focus on your breath and body sensations, which helps you become more aware of your body and mind and what is happening in the present moment. By bringing this practice off the mat, you can learn to be more present and attentive in your daily life. You can start to notice when your mind has wandered, and use the tools you learned in yoga class to help shift your awareness.
To practice mindfulness in your daily life, you can start by simply taking a few deep breaths and focusing on the sensations in your body. You can also try to notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you without judgment or distraction. When you feel your mind start to wander, gently bring your attention back to the present moment. You can also try to practice mindfulness while doing simple activities like washing dishes, walking, or even brushing your teeth. By paying attention to the sensations and thoughts in these everyday activities, you can cultivate greater mindfulness and awareness in your daily life.
Acceptance Off the Mat
Acceptance is a tool that everyone needs in their life-navigation toolbox. It gives us hope in challenging times, and helps us embrace what is without trying to change it. During a yoga class, you learn to accept your body and its limitations, rather than pushing it beyond its limits. This practice can extend to all areas of your life, allowing you to embrace your strengths and weaknesses and work with them instead of against them. Yoga also teaches us to accept the ebbs and flows of life with understanding and courage.
During a yoga class, you may experience physical discomfort or challenging poses that require mental and emotional strength to approach. By practicing acceptance in these moments, you can learn to acknowledge and work with your pain, rather than pushing it away or trying to change it. You learn to listen to your body and settle in a place that feels comfortable and right for you at that moment. This concept can extend to situations you face at work, in relationships, or in any other situation in which it is helpful to identify what you can change, and what you cannot.
To practice acceptance off the mat, start with the little obstacles you face every day. Rather than meeting them with resistance and frustration, try greeting challenges with curiosity and appreciation for the lessons they’ll bring. Although it might be difficult and feel unnatural at first, practicing acceptance with the little things helps prepare us for the bigger curve balls life throws our way. Much of our energy and enjoyment of life is wasted on trying to change, fix, or avoid things that are inevitable. Yoga teaches us to focus not on how to avoid suffering, but rather on how to work through the suffering we experience and use it to become wiser, more peaceful people.
Compassion Off the Mat
Yoga can help us cultivate a sense of interconnectedness with others and the world. As we become more aware of our breath, our movements, and our thoughts, we begin to notice our interconnectedness with other people and nature. This realization can help us develop a deeper appreciation for the world around us and the people in it, leading to a greater sense of compassion and empathy for others.
By practicing yoga, we can become more mindful of our actions and their impact on others, leading us to make more conscious and compassionate choices. In no way am I claiming to be Mother Teresa, but my yoga practice has definitely changed my perception on others and as a result, changed how I treated people.
Yoga helped me realize that I am not the only person in the Universe who has problems and has experienced pain. It helped me realize that we were all born into some level of trauma, and that everyone is doing the best they can with what they were given. This collective suffering is what makes us all brothers and sisters according to yoga, and helps us relate to one another on an empathetic level.
Compassion can have endless manifestations off the mat. For me, it’s a general perception change that I find myself applying to situations with other people. Instead of showing a very specific finger to a person who cuts me off in traffic, I try to imagine they just found out their loved one is in the hospital or they have an injured person in the car. I make a point to be friendly to checkout people in stores because I know there have been times when a stranger’s kindness has changed the trajectory of my day. Compassion can be how we deal with strangers, the people we’re in relationships with, the people we work with; it also applies to how we treat ourselves.
At Inspiring Actions, we know that yoga is so much more than the postures we perform on the mat. Our studios were named to honor the concept of taking what we learn in yoga and applying it to our lives and our community with mindful action. If you are looking for a new yoga home or are trying yoga for the first time, you will be greeted with openness, respect, and warmth at Inspiring Actions. Our talented instructors are dedicated to taking the practice of yoga off the mat and into our world to make it a better place.
If you are a newcomer to yoga, our Yoga 101 series is the perfect way to learn basic history, terminology, and poses. If you’re looking for a challenge, try a heated class or Barre yoga! We have weekly classes to make it easy to develop a consistent routine, and our frequent special events offer a chance to learn about other aspects of holistic health and spirituality. Our diverse array of specialties means there is something for everyone and for every step of your journey. Come visit us at our studios in Hudson or River Falls; we also offer many of our classes and events online!