If you are a long-term yoga practitioner or are just growing your yogi wings, you may want to find ways to incorporate it smoothly or at least regularly into your day to day lifestyle. Here are three suggestions to give you a hand, a stretch, or a lift.
1. Get into a Rhythm, But Don’t Be A Dictator
While commitment and perseverance are important to building healthy habits, it is okay to have off days. Sometimes you may have a short practice session, or maybe even just squeeze in some yoga at your desk.
A good way to develop a pattern or rhythm of practice is to spend some time analyzing your daily routines and look for moments or junctures where you could use an energetic shift or some centering, or where you simply have some extra time that could be used for yoga.
Some people practice first thing in the morning or right after work religiously so they don’t get off schedule. You may practice every other day, or every weekend. Sometimes you might have a cold or be feeling overwhelmed and need to just practice walking meditation or sit under a tree rather than fully engage in asana practice—and that’s okay.
Whenever you are engaging in a positive change or setting goals for yourself, try not to become your own judgmental enemy, and focus on the positive, self-befriending aspects of your practice. Aim to find those moments which repeat throughout the week that could be good times to check in with your body, either for a full yoga practice or a quick mindful stretch.
2. Find Places in Your Life to Put Poses
While a yoga mat, blocks, straps, etc. are wonderful and integral tools, you may find that you can also practice yoga without them in a very satisfying way throughout your day.
There are lots of ways yoga (asana) can become a normal part of your day, even when you are not using yoga gear and accoutrements. For example: how about trying this standing version of Upward Dog on the counter once you’re done washing dishes or brushing your teeth?
You can also stand in Tree pose while doing various, seemingly mundane tasks, like writing grocery lists, talking on the phone, washing dishes, etc.
3. Focus on Your Posture and Your Yoga Opportunities at Work
If your work involves standing and walking, you can bring awareness of your body’s weight distribution and alignment throughout the day. If you are working at a desk, there are a variety of yogic activities, exercises, and postures you can incorporate. Here are five great chair-sitting postures recommended for fibromyalgia relief, but can also be wonderfully helpful for anyone who spends a good portion of the day seated.
It is also essential that you get up and go for walks whenever you can. You can set a timer to remind you to stretch, stand and move around every 20 minutes or so. This mindfulness bell site provided by the Washington Mindfulness Community can be set to play beautiful meditation bells at the intervals you choose.
You can check out DOYOU’s Office Yoga Challenge for more ideas on how you can practice yoga even within the confines of your office walls. And if you spend a lot of time using your smart devices, remember to sit/stand straight and hold your head up to prevent the “tech neck” type of neck strain.
In Meditations from the Mat, Rolf Gates tells us that, like nature, “Yoga brings us from disconnection and fear to connection and love”. He also quotes Lau-Tzu; “Stay in the center of the circle and let all things take their course.” Your yoga practice can help you to slow down, connect with loving energy, and reclaim the powerful center place that is your own body.
While having a “refuge” and quiet place to do yoga can be very helpful, your practice does not have to be limited to certain times of day or locations. Hopefully these three suggestions, and above all listening to yourself and your body, will be helpful as you explore integrating yoga more into your world and life. Keep breathing, namaste, and good luck!