Yoga is transforming. I have been immensely changed since my return to yoga a little over a year ago. And I continue to grow and change each day I practice. That’s one of the beautiful things about yoga, the constant learning. Not to mention the increase in self awareness, mindfulness, patience, etc, etc. I mean, the list can go on and on!
For me at this point, I notice a HUGE difference in the way my day plays out if I don't get a good yoga sesh in. It’s not pretty, I admit. A few weeks ago I went three days without practicing due to a conference I attended out of town, and by day three I was in some kind of funk. I couldn’t put my finger on any particular cause, but I was bumming hard. The Hubs (my fabulous husband) was like, “When was your last yoga practice?” Oh. Of course. Duh! Needless to say, yoga has become a way of life for me.
So let’s talk daily practice. How do we? Life is crazy, right? And if you are like me, you were already working out, so now how do you add yoga to the list of daily tasks? If anyone has studied yoga at any length, you know that it’s so much more than just hitting the mat for some asanas. It’s about living mindfully, cultivating a source of calm, practicing self love and building a place that our souls can thrive. And to do this, we must practice.
1. PRACTICE AT HOME TOO
I know I just said there is more to yoga than asanas, and there is, but it is through the asanas that we build a place that our soul can thrive. The asanas can shape and strengthen our bodies. We learn to accept where we are and to be patient when it comes to change. We learn body awareness. We learn to love our bodies. It’s pretty beautiful what can happen when we show up to the mat.
Taking class is a fabulous way to learn correct alignment, get introduced to new poses, and learn how to build up into the more difficult poses, not to mention the energy that can inspire us in a room full of other yogis. But at some point, I believe we need to develop a practice at home to fully reap the benefits of yoga. Plus, if you are like me, the idea that you can go into your own little space and make magic without having to do the whole social, other people thing, is quite fantastic.
Find a space somewhere in your house and put some plants, candles, incense, oils, crystals, tapestries, or whatever else will help you get into the mood. Set a specific time everyday and put it on your to do list, schedule, calendar, whatever it is you look at everyday. Each of our schedules are different, so find a time that works for you. Make time for it. And let go of all the guilt regarding all the “other stuff” you “should” be doing. You need this time to nourish you. You need this self love and care. So let it go.
If you are a seasoned yogi with an established practice, you may wish to create your own flows and sequences. But otherwise, it’s best to follow along with yoga teachers who have an advanced knowledge of correct alignment and proper execution. Here is a list of my favorite yogi YouTube channels!!
- Yoga By Candace
- Fightmaster Yoga
- Leigha Butler Yoga
- Yoga By Cassandra
I also love love love YogaGlo. It’s $18 a month and they have hundreds of great yoga videos and guided meditations with renowned teachers, including Kathryn Budig, Tiffany Cruikshank and Chelsey Korus, who I LOVE!
I have also recently discovered oneoeight.com. I has a very similar setup to YogaGlo, but they also offer retreats, a food section and a shop. Their faculty line up includes Rachel Brathen, Briohny Smyth, Bee Bosnak, Meghan Currie and many more. It’s $14 a month and I can’t wait to give it a try.
Oh yes, lovelies!! Meditation! Just saying the word gets me all kinds of fired up. Meditation has had such an impact on me, I will never go a day without it. At least not on purpose…! I know it can seem intimidating. I thought there was no way I would be able to turn my mind off. But through this practice, I have learned that it’s not so much about having no thoughts as it is about developing self awareness. So that when you do get thoughts popping back into your mind (we all do!) you are aware enough to send them packing again.
Guided meditation is a great way to start. You have someone else, with a lovely soothing voice, guiding your thoughts and breath. There are plenty of apps and youtube channels for guided meditations. Gaiam has an app that I use, and it’s free. There is also Headspace and Buddhify, but both of these have a monthly fee. Usually, if you find an online yoga teacher that you love, they will usually have some guided meditations as well as their asana videos.
Silent meditation is a gorgeous thing. We can receive inspiration and answers to life’s questions this way. It is a perfect way to get in touch with our true souls, our true nature. We can discover and release our true warrior goddess within. Here is where we develop self awareness.
This one is a tough one for me. It’s something that I am working on to make more of a priority. But that being said, I cannot deny some of the beautiful insights I have had from this practice. Some of my greatest self realizations have happened while writing in my journal. And a lot of what I put on my blog or social media, quotes, phrases or little insights, came from writing in my journal.
I think a great time to get out your journal is after a meditation or yoga session. But anytime that works for you will be just as great. Just letting those thoughts flow onto paper can be incredibly freeing and very enlightening. No one has to read what you are writing. Even you don’t have to read what you are writing, unless you find something you want to revisit or revamp. A lot of the time, I don’t ever look at my writings again. Just write who you are. Just write.
4. LIVE NAMASTE
The definition of Namaste essentially means the divine soul in me acknowledges and recognizes the divine soul in you. It’s a beautiful word with a beautiful meaning. The more we get to know our true selves, our divine selves, and the more we practice self love, we are better able to love others and recognize that we are all divine souls with divine purpose. I don’t believe we can ever truly love others unless we love ourselves.
Throughout my day, I make it a point to practice self love. Let’s be honest, I’m a work in progress. But I believe the more I can love myself, imperfections and weakness included, the more I am able to love others and their imperfections as well. The more I recognize my divine soul the more I am able to recognize others as well. Just imagine how much more patience and forgiveness would be prevalent in our lives if we lived namaste daily. Give it a try!
5. MASTERING SELF AWARENESS
This one's a toughie, but I use the word mastery because we are not, nor ever will be, perfect in this life. It’s all we can do to just master the art of self awareness. This means recognizing our personal tendencies and behaviors that we exhibit each and every day, whether they are good or bad, and then moving forward or making a change. When I personally recognize my tendency to control the outcome of any given situation, I can then step back, let go of that need to control, and just ride the wave of life. I recognize a behavior and I make the change. But it’s not about beating ourselves up for our imperfections and shortcomings. Remember, self love and all that!! Living with self awareness is about recognizing and accepting who we are each day and then either moving forward in goodness or changing something we think needs to be changed. All with a heaping serving of self love!!
The more I study, practice and evolve, the more I discover ways to incorporate yoga into my daily life. I am sure this list will evolve over the years. I hope it does! Because I hope that I am evolving and so therefore my practice is evolving. Yoga isn’t just a workout, it’s a way of life. It’s changing the way I live mine, for the better. I’d love to hear how you guys practice yoga daily, so spill!!