How To Apply Yoga in Your Day-to-Day
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Practicing yoga has the ability to go far beyond a 90-minute workout session, that is, if you let it. In fact, the fundamental principles of yoga are designed to infiltrate how we live our lives.
That’s because the foundation of yoga hinges on self-awareness. Awareness of the body and its breath, the mind and its thoughts. We can take the foundational teachings of yoga far beyond the classroom and into our daily lives, but this takes discipline and commitment.
Are you willing to take it to the next level? Here are seven ways to apply yoga principles in the day-to-day:
1. In a stressful moment, bring it back to your breath
Seven out of ten American adults report they experience stress and anxiety. That’s 70% percent of the adult population that find themselves getting caught up in their circumstances on a daily basis. After all, that’s what stress is—the sudden realization that life is unpredictable, circumstances are hard, and we can’t do a thing about it.
Whether you find yourself caught in a stressful moment or you suffer from chronic stress, research shows deep breathing exercises can calm you. In fact, pranayama, or the formal practice of controlled breathing, actually catalyzes a relaxation response in our body.
The term “relaxation response” was coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, the founder of Harvard’s Mind and Body Medical Institute. The relaxation response counteracts the detrimental effects of our body’s stress response, also known as “fight-or-flight.” It’s defined by a person’s ability to release chemicals and brain signals that slow activity in the body and increase blood flow to the brain. This bodily response has been proven to relieve a number of stress-related ailments, including depression and anxiety.
In fact, when our exhales are longer than our inhales, our body is signaled to trigger its "rest & digest" relaxation mode rather than its "fight-or-flight" stress mode.
So, when life becomes too much to handle, remember to bring it back to your breath.
2. Go with the flow
Yes, this is possibly the most cliché saying there ever was, but that’s because it’s a good advice. Yoga is all about flow; it’s about listening to your body and mind in the present moment and responding. Flow is achieved when mind, body and spirit are at one, and you are living fully in the present moment.
When applied to our lives, flow helps us stop worrying about the future, but allows us to take each day and moment as it comes. It doesn’t mean you should neglect all planning. Rather, it means not getting fixated on the challenges of tomorrow. For all we know, tomorrow is not guaranteed.
3. Practice being present in the presence of others
Mental presence is equally as important as physical presence when it comes to yoga. The same is true for your relationships. Our physical presence is nothing without our resounding mental presence as well.
Presence not only brings individual awareness, reflection, and learning, it also makes others feel known. Presence is critical for both personal and relational development.
If you want to better learn how to do this on a regular bases, you should join a Nidra Yoga teacher training course.
4. Find your balance
As humans, we are limited. We have finite emotional, physical, and mental capacities. That means when we say “yes” to one thing, we are saying “no” to another, whether we know it or not.
When weighing commitments, ask yourself these three things:
- Do I have the emotional capability to take this on?
- Do I have the physical ability (both physical time and strength) to say ‘yes’ to this commitment?
- Do I have the mental capacity to put the effort needed towards this?
There is a lot to juggle in life! Without the proper balance and consideration of what you can handle, you are bound to come crashing down one way or another.
5. Learn to appreciate good rest
Remember how I said we are limited human beings? That would be the reason we were designed to rest. It’s why we so desperately need eight hours of shut-eye to recharge after a long day.
It’s funny how we can’t wait to assume savasana at the end of a tough yoga class, but dread hitting pause when it comes to our own life. If we don’t learn to appreciate rest, our bodies will force us to rest, whether that means we fall ill or have a mental breakdown. This is especially important when it comes to sleep.
Millions of Americans fall victim to troubled sleep, and they are paying the price. Lack of sleep has been linked to a variety of long-term health ailments including an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Not to mention we all suffer the short-term consequences of too little shut-eye. These include lack of energy, focus and productivity.
The good news is, yoga and mindful meditation are actually a natural remedy to sleep. Mindful meditation fights insomnia by promoting the body’s relaxation response we talked about earlier. This aids in helping us fall asleep.
If you struggle with finding rest on a regular basis, assess your sleep health from a holistic point of view. Is your bed in condition to help you achieve a good night’s sleep? Drinking caffeine too late in the day? Are there other disturbances to your sleep such as light, noise and temperature? Assess your sleeping environment for possible disturbances and make adjustments accordingly.
Sleep is an integral part of overall health and wellness. It’s important you take the appropriate steps to protect it.
6. Find your “guru”
Okay, this doesn’t mean go find an actual guru. But, each of us could use someone older and wiser to shepherd us through life’s different seasons. Although we’d all deny it to the grave, we don’t have all the answers.
Find your confidant—someone to work through your fears, dreams, challenges, stresses, or anything you can think of. You’ll find there is something so peaceful and reassuring about knowing someone whose “been there, done that” that can speak guidance into your life experiences.
7. Have a routine
A routine teaches discipline and develops good habits. In fact, research shows that sticking to a daily routine can improve your overall health, wellbeing, and productivity. However, each of us must discover the routine that works for us. What works for a friend or family member may not work for you.
A daily routine leads to productive days and, ultimately, more relaxed lives. Work through what you want your bedtime routine, eating habits, and workout regimen to look like. Once you map that out, work towards sticking to it. If you fail, don’t beat yourself up. We are humans, not robots. Show yourself a little grace when you drop your routine every once in a while.
Want to extend your practice well beyond the studio? Join a Kundalini Yoga teacher training and bring more peace to your everyday life!