(If you haven’t tried yoga just yet, sign up for a trial pass at Brick Bodies and experience one of our many yoga classes for yourself!)
Beyond the Physical Postures
The many different postures of yoga probably first come to mind when you think of this ancient discipline. However, while it’s true that the physical practice is a significant part of yoga, other components — from the mind to the spirit — are equally important. Which begs the question: with so much to gain from yoga, why would you willingly contain these benefits to just one 30-minute or hour-long session?
However, incorporating yoga’s teachings throughout your life can be easier said than done, according to occupational therapist and certified yoga teacher Stacy Renz who told SelfGrowth.com:
“What seems difficult for many yoga students is translating what they learn in class to a home practice. They may not remember the postures or draw a mental blank when they try to practice them at home. One way to immediately begin to integrate yoga into your life is a daily practice of observation on all levels of being. This can be as transforming as a physical practice, and it only takes about 10 minutes.”
Specifically, Renz recommends a few simple steps, beginning with making a commitment to being present by observing physical sensations, like breathing, as well as checking in on your thoughts and motions. Renze also suggests listing gratitudes, daily intentions, and affirmations. “These practices keep me from self-delusion and take away my need to hide through overeating or over-working,” she says. “Staying completely conscious and aware enables me to address issues while they are still small, allowing me to reside more often in the state of peace, ease, and bliss spoken of in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.”
Other yoga techniques recommended by experts like Deepak Chopra include: meditation; practicing non-judgment; and finding compassion throughout your day, including behind-the-wheel. (Chopra describes driving as “an excellent laboratory for self-awareness – and an ideal place to cultivate equanimity and calm).
Toward the Pursuit of Balance
Why does it matter so much? Because in our busy daily lives, stress, anxiety, and negativity can take over — ultimately interfering with overall mental and physical health and well-being. By embracing the principles of yoga as you move throughout your life, however, you empower yourself to consciously respond to these impacts in a way that promotes balance, harmony, and positive perspectives. Says Chopra, “Over time, yoga becomes something we live, not just something we ‘practice.’”
Adds Huffington Post writer and fitness enthusiast Jennifer Langione:
“Whether you pound your feet on the pavement day after day or perform the same repetitive motion on the Stairmaster, we could all be more conscious about how we treat our bodies. Like any other aspect of life, balance is crucial; as we work our bodies and minds to excess every day in the gym or at the office, it’s easy to forget to breathe, stretch and let it all go.”
In fact, if you’re leaving yoga behind when you leave the gym, you may be missing out on the whole point. Says Chopra:
“The intention of consciousness-based yoga practices such as the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga is to integrate and balance all the layers of our life so that our body, mind, heart, intellect, and spirit flow in harmony. As we expand our awareness through the practice of yoga, we become more capable of perceiving the richness that life offers.”
What’s the takeaway? While your practice may begin in yoga class, carrying the intentions of yoga with you wherever you go can help you realize its full benefits.