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Take Your Practice Off the Mat



So you’ve just left an amazing yoga class.  You’re feeling calm, tired yet energized and long through your muscles.   Maybe you’ve succeeded in reaching a goal pose or were touched by the music or mantra offered by your teacher.   One thing's for sure, you have created “space” for yourself to move and think.   Like the feeling you get when you slip on a clean pair of pajamas after a hot shower, you note to yourself that it would be wonderful to feel like this all the time.  What if you could?  What if you could bring mindfulness into your daily routine?  By incorporating a few of these tips you can now take your yoga practice off of your yoga mat.


1. Bring Conscious Thought toYour Hands and Feet: 

Our hands and feet are comprised of hundreds of nerve endings, and yet most of us pay little, if any, attention to them.  We have an arch in our hands, similar to the one located in our feet which can assist with grounding and stabilizing during our yoga practice.  Off the mat this becomes important to the way we walk and hold things.  Make a conscious attempt to ground through all four corners of your feet when walking.  Feel as though you are broad across the soles of your feet, and notice how this changes your posture.    Similarly, take note of the movement in your hands, stretch out through your palms, wiggle your fingers and feel the energy comprised there.  The next time you shake someone’s hand or rest your palm on a friend’s shoulder be aware of the energy transfer there.  In our everyday life our feet ground us to the earth and create stability, while our hands ground us to each other offering the healing and calming power of touch.   

2. Incorporate the Asanas into Your Daily Movements: 

Taking your asana practice off of your yoga mat can be a creative and fun experience.  Balancing poses are perhaps the easiest to incorporate.  Try standing in tree pose while you prepare a meal or get yourself ready in the morning.  Tadasana or Mountain pose takes a whole new level of balance and core work when performing it on the street car or GO train. Sit in Janu Sirsasana or Dandasana while watching tv, and then roll back to Happy Baby Pose or a side twist on commercials.  The key here is to be creative and have fun, you will be surprised how much you can incorporate and how it also reminds you of your posture throughout the day.   These little changes will help reduce the tension build up in your body throughout the day. 

3. The Power of a Smile: 

Sure it may sound cheesy but smiling actually changes the way others perceive you.  People tend to be more open and willing to “be nice” when they are approached by someone who has a pleasant facial expression.  We all have stress factors in our lives, we all have our “stuff”, sometimes simply smiling at a passersby on the street, or the person behind the counter check out can remind them that someone cares, that someone notices them.  Smiling creates positive energy which in turn translates into our interactions with others.  Take some of the stress out of your work environment by smiling at your boss or co-workers; it will create a soothing, understanding atmosphere.   You’ll begin to feel the same calming effect you feel when leaving a yoga class.

4. Karmic Action: 

The Bhagavad Gita says, “What the outstanding person does, others will try to do.  The standards such people create will be followed by the whole world”.  I know the idea of changing the world might seem a bit farfetched, but think about this on a smaller scale.  Karma is not solely related to the old “what goes around comes around” adage.  Karma is about really about selfless action.  Doing something without regard for the outcome or reward, doing something “just because”.   We love attending yoga classes because, “workout” aside, we experience a sense of belonging to a community of people who are non-judgmental…we experience calm.  Take this into your interactions with other; say “thank you” because you want to not because you expect a “you’re welcome” in return.  Begin to foster a detachment from the constant chatter of your thoughts.  Begin to separate yourself from it…watch the chatter and become aware of the fact that you are in control of how you react to it.  You may not change the world (right away anyways) but you will change your interactions with friends, family and co-workers…people will notice it and you may just inspire them to bring conscious awareness and karmic action into their own lives.