While it is great to get flexible and learn how to calm your mind in a yoga class, it is even better to share that sense of calm, collected energy with the rest of the world. Many yoga enthusiasts yearn for ways they can take their expanded perspectives out into the world to make a difference. Here are five ways to take yoga off your mat and into your expanded world.
Yoga Happens All the Time
You are always practicing yoga whether you realize it or not. It is in the way you treat other people, the way you breathe, the way you handle hardship. All the things you learn on your yoga mat can be extended to your everyday life. When you get into a challenging posture, you are taught to breathe and let go, instead of fighting it. It is this glorious release that allows you to move deeper into the asana. The next time you face a challenging situation in your work life or family life, take a deep breath. Don’t struggle against what you are facing. Act like it is a challenging yoga pose that you are exploring – not fighting, and observe the wonderful results you experience by changing your attitude.
Good Karma Goes a Long Way
Practice karma yoga. If you want to take your yoga practice a step further, you can practice karma yoga. Karma yoga is the act of engaging in selfless service. This practice doesn’t have to be drudgery. It can be any activity that you graciously give your time, effort, or talent to someone else without any expectation of reward. The secret to giving is that it breaks down perceived barriers between you and the other, so that you can experience the connectedness between all people. When you give to another, you give to yourself. It feels great and gets you out of your own way. Karma yoga can be as simple as opening a door for someone, helping an elderly person carry their groceries to their car or as grandiose as opening a school in a small village in a foreign country where resources are limited. The extent of your gift to others will perpetuate the gifts you bring to yourself through a karmic exchange.
Take Yoga Into Your Own Hands
Practice on your own in your car, at your office, between loads of laundry at home. Many people feel they can only practice yoga in a studio with others. The postures seem intimidating, and they worry about doing them correctly. While this is a valid concern, there are other aspects of yoga you can practice when you are away from your teacher. Take a few moments to practice pranayama at your office. Drive home mindfully, and without road rage by focusing on your breath. Do one or two asana between the wash and dry cycles, and experience yoga throughout your day.
Share The Breath
Teach a friend how to meditate for five minutes. Sometimes just sitting still and quiet with someone, and matching their breath can help them to calm down. Slowing the breath is one of the fastest ways to calm the nervous system. By slowing yours next to someone who is panicking, you can calm them down without them even realizing why.
Pass It On
If you are a more advanced yogi, offer to teach a beginner class at a preschool or elderly care clinic. Just some simple poses and your positive energy can make someone’s day, and ignite their interest in yoga so that they can experience all the same benefits that you already do.