Taking Yoga Off The Mat
How Not to be an A**hole
At the end of yoga class, everyone is seated, hands pressed together at the chest, eyes closed in serenity. It's in this moment, when peace is palpable, I sometimes say, ‘Let this peace settle into body and mind, taking it with you, off the mat, into the world to share with others.’
When I began practicing yoga regularly, it was admittedly a selfish endeavour. It made me feel so good! I was a bliss-filled body at the end of class, floating home on a dreamy, sivasana haze. Thankfully, I had gifted teachers. They weaved philosophy into their classes, effectively piquing my interest on subjects like mindfulness, meditation, living your yoga off the mat and what that looked like. They reminded me we are all connected, and the resulting peace found on the mat was meant to be dispersed and shared within those connections.
Taking yoga “off the mat” isn't snapping handstand pictures in public while strangers gawk. It's taking the serenity, knowledge of self, compassionate feelings the physical practice elicits and integrating them into all areas of life. Lean muscles, flexibility and abs are wonderful by-products. Means to an end, but not the end themselves. The end is a better existence.
Consider this: humans, like tables, have four components that need to be cared for to find balance; emotional, spiritual, mental and physical components. Take one of these away, or make one larger, and the table (or human) gets thrown out of whack. Yoga attends to all the table legs with the side benefit of making legs look sexy.
It's about building awareness of mind, body and soul, the role each of them plays, and how those roles can be used for the greater good. To put it plainly – yoga is an ancient practice that shows us in modern times how not to be an asshole.
The physical practice is a beautiful thing. However, beautiful things distract. Don’t let it distract from the rich, hidden world of philosophy and empathy that can lead you to a better life. Yoga means union. It reminds us we are united in body, mind, spirit and we are united to one another. We exist in an interdependent world. We feel the truth of this; climate change, globalization, political systems interplaying and clashing. By letting the practice remind us of our interdependence, it leaves us open to working together to create effective, powerful change in our lifetime.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather this result than six-pack abs.
After the dreamy sivasana haze has lifted, think of ways you can share that amazing feeling. And I don’t mean posting a pretty yoga picture online.
Hug someone. Tell someone you love them. Help a friend. Help a stranger. Be kind and open to others. Share the peace. Live your yoga off the mat.
Jelayna is a well certified, passionate yoga teacher. Her love for yoga takes her across the GTA to teach at several studios and multiple clients. Her background in Psychology and College Athletics infuses her classes with a strong understanding of how mind and body function. Whether leading a large outdoor event, a classroom of yogis, or in the home of a client her philosophy for teaching is simple; teach with love, empathy, patience and humility. Yoga is a journey, not a destination. www.jelaynayoga.com