Yoga is a vast subject and is so much more than just the asanas (postures) on the yoga mat. It is a subject of self-study and expanding awareness that encompasses a whole way of living. In the same way that we learn to observe the sensations of the body in asana practice, we can also learn to observe the sensations of the body during our daily life. This allows us to be more connected with our body, and its needs and to feel what effect our actions have on how we feel. To do this we need to slow down and to make time for ourselves and the time to observe how we feel. For example, observing how the mind feels different at the cusps between sleeping and waking compared with at mid-day, or observing the feeling of fullness after a meal, or the spontaneous emotions arising in a particular situation. With this awareness we can become an observer of the body and mind, to question how it feels and to be able to stand back and see things more objectively rather than reacting in with a conditioned response. Through expanding our individual awareness we expand the awareness of our interactions with other people and other manifestations of life, so that we can live with greater love and joy.
To bring yoga off the mat, try my top five tips for incorporating yoga into your day
- Take 5 minutes in the morning before getting out of bed, to observe your body and mind. Which parts feel pure (sattva), agitated (rajas) and dull (tamas)
- Sit down to eat your meals and concentrate all your senses on the food and eating, giving it your undivided attention. This helps to connect you to what you’re eating and to observe how it makes you feel.
- Observe how you sit during the day, whether at a desk, at the dining table or on the sofa. Check yourself frequently. Try to sit evenly on both buttock bones and lift the spine and chest upwards to help to elevate mood. A lifted chest is a lifted outlook.
- Observe how you stand during the day, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, on public transport or whilst chatting to others. Try to stand evenly on both feet, legs straight and lifting up and the hips parallel. A balanced body brings a balanced mind.
- Make time for silence by dedicating a set time each day to be in silence. Avoid having the radio, music or TV on in the background and put your phone on silent. This allows you to draw the sense inwards towards the self, so you can listen to what it’s telling you.