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How to Practice Yoga Off the Mat

Are you lacking in time or motivation to make it a yoga class today? Don’t worry; you can still practice yoga even if your mat is hiding out in the closet or lost somewhere in the back seat of your car.

Many people see yoga as a workout that strengthens, stretches, and relaxes our mind and body, but it is also deeply layered with philosophical premises. These premises are what help to fuel the sought after “post yoga glow” at the end of class. You will emit this glow after holding sometimes rigorous and sweat producing yoga poses, but there is a lot more you can explore beyond taking your favorite yoga class.

First, you must identify your intention for practicing yoga. Are you after a perfect rear end, sculpted arms and a flat stomach? Or is your approach more about reducing stress, heightening the awareness of your body or flirting with new levels of spirituality?

Rumi, a Sufi poet, wrote, “There are one hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” And the more you learn about yoga, the more you will realize there are many ways to practice, even outside of class.

Just as thinking “outside the box” gives you inspiration and a change in perspective, the following suggestions will help you take your yoga practice to new levels and help you realize you don’t always have to think (or practice) “inside the mat.”

1. Watch Your Breath

In yoga philosophy, the breath is the connector between the mind and the body. Anytime you take a few moments to pay attention to your breath you are increasing your awareness of yourself and your surrounding environment. This is the essence of yoga, expressed through mindfulness and being present.

2. Witness Your Thoughts

When you are practicing yoga, your thoughts slow down and you become better at controlling them. When you are not practicing yoga, try “studying” your thoughts, pausing first, and then responding as necessary. Reacting to something without thinking it through first can be detrimental to a positive outcome. When you think before you speak, great things are likely to arise such as compassion and acceptance for yourself and others, which are also side effects of yoga.

3. Workout With Intention

Just because you may be opting to go to the gym instead of going to yoga doesn’t mean you cannot make your efforts coincide with a wholesome yoga practice. Try refraining from distracting behavior such as watching TV while you workout. Make it a point to feel everything; even the grueling sensations that make you want to quit. As in yoga, when you focus on all of the sensations throughout your body you become better at neutralizing discomfort, and in the end this makes you stronger.

4. Learn to Let Go

Let the end of your day feel like Savasana (the final relaxation pose) at the end of a yoga class. Take a few moments to digest the things that occurred, and then let them go by detaching completely. Feel light, content and blissed out even if your mat has taken a back seat.

Also Read:

Positive Daily Affirmations for Healthier and Happier Moments

Yoga vs. Pilates: What is the Difference?

Interview with Nine Steps to Happiness and Health Authors

 

August 26th, 2011

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