Practicing yoga off the mat is what it’s really all about
When I first started practicing yoga over 14 years ago, I knew it was an ancient tradition but had no clue it was so much more than a physical practice. I didn’t then understand I could use it to truly transform my life.
For years I had struggled with addiction. I went to yoga because it offered me something I knew was missing. When I practiced yoga, I felt a deep connection to not just my body, but something much bigger than myself.
It was that connection that I didn’t know I’d been searching for all those years I’d spent turning to drugs and alcohol. I didn’t know another way to get beyond the material world and out of my head.
Not until I found yoga.
Yoga can be quite sneaky. It sometimes works on certain things seemingly overnight. And, for some things, it might not appear to be helping at all. Trust me, it is. Yoga is always working underneath the surface and the physical body is just one layer of many.
For a long time, I didn’t realize I was taking my yoga off the mat. I just began feeling happier, more content, and sincerely nicer. Yoga infiltrates every area of our lives. Start here and watch it spread everywhere.
5 ways to take yoga off the mat
- Understanding. When someone does something that you think is rude or “wrong”, think about what their situation might be. If someone cuts you off on the highway, they might be rushing to see someone in the hospital. If someone says something unkind to you, maybe someone talked to them that way, and they believed their words. The point is, we never really know. You can decide to focus on how you want to react to the situation.
- Grace. On our mat, we can learn how to meet challenging poses with more grace and elegance. This helps us to meet difficult situations in our daily lives with more poise as well.
- Patience. Patience is greatly cultivated on our yoga mats. We have to learn how to be patient with our bodies and realize that we’re not going to be able to get into every pose the 1st, or even the 100th time we try. Yoga off the mat means being more patient even under the most trying circumstances.
- Self-acceptance. The more you practice yoga, the more you’ll start to accept your body, maybe even fall in love with your body for all it can do. Your poses might not look quite like the teacher’s, but your body is strong. Your body got you on your mat today. Your body sends blood from your heart to your toes. It’s an amazing machine and once you can start to find gratitude for it, your body will blossom and be the body you’ve always dreamt of. Yoga makes us strong in innumerable ways that allow us to see our strength in every situation.
- Commitment. I’ve never been one to stick with things. I believe it’s because I like to try lots of different things and I understand not everything is going to be a good fit. With yoga, I know the advantages are greater than any of my excuses, so I keep coming back to my mat. Yoga has saved me from the grips of addiction. Its helped me to be a better mom and a wife. And, its opened up my spiritual path in amazing ways.
The beauty of yoga is that there are so many ways to practice. It doesn’t have to be a 90-minute practice every day of the week. Each day, take a few moments, before even looking at your phone, to tune in to what you really need that day. Tap into Source, get aligned with something greater than yourself then ask what would fill your cup that day. It might look like a sweat-inducing 90-minute practice but it might look like a 20-minute gentle flow, a 30-minute restorative practice or 10 minutes of meditation.
It doesn’t need to look the same every day and it definitely doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s practice or definition of what yoga is. For a long time, I thought yoga was just asana. Once I realized it could be so much more, I started to cut myself some slack and feel what my body really needed. This is the first step to really getting in touch with your Intuition. When you don’t listen to it, that’s when we burn the candle at both ends and we want our yoga practice to fill us up, not deplete us.
How can yoga fill your cup today?
Let us know in the comments!