Yoga off the Mat: Movement Mondays
Body is the bow, asana is the arrow, and the soul is the target.
~ BKS Iyengar
We often hear Yoga Instructors encourage us to take our practice off our mat and into our daily routines. Perhaps you have wondered what this really means? Does it suggest that we need to balance off the mat with our emotions and actions more evenly in our home lives or at work? Or does it ask that we employ our breathing techniques when we find ourselves in a combative, frustrating or disappointing moment?
For me, taking my yoga off my mat and into my everyday life is more about how I integrate the physical foundations into my daily routine. When I am physically aligned, I am able to focus on the action in motion instead of the emotion of the moment. Meditation in action is the premise of the Iyengar methodology. Considering most of us do not get enough time in our daily routines to practice our yoga as frequently as we would like, taking my physical yoga off my mat and into my basic, everyday functions is often my yoga.
For me, taking my yoga off my mat and into my everyday life is more about how I integrate the physical foundations into my daily routine.
Here are a few tips so your yoga can meet your lifestyle. Be it in the kitchen, bathroom, sitting at your desk, or simply reading to your children. Yoga is for everyone, anytime, anywhere, with or without a mat. Yoga is the science of balancing mind and body connection and building physical strength and awareness, wherever we are, not just when you attend a class.
KITCHEN YOGA: It’s time to start thinking a little outside the box and using every valuable moment and our time wisely. When preparing meals, be mindful of how you are standing at the counter. Are your feet more than hip distance apart or splayed in an outward direction? Most people stand without thinking about it and are placing unnecessary pressure on their lower backs. Use the pattern on your floors to help align your feet to a parallel position. Stand with your shoulders, hips, and ankles all stacked on top of each other. Now chop away, stir fry your dinner and feel the new found length in your lower back. This is your Kitchen yoga prescription; Mountain (Tadasana) off the mat.
BATHROOM YOGA: One of the easiest places to practice our alignment is in the washroom. Here we sit, stand, bend forward, reach up and do all things yogic! When bending forward, set up for a Half forward fold (Ardha Uttanasana). See if your Kitchen Tadasana foundation has resonated and this time hinge forward from your groin and towel dry your hair. Keep your back flat and just let your hair hang. Enjoy your core engagement as you hold this position as long as you need to in order to squeeze the last drips of water from your ends. This is your Bathroom yoga prescription; Half-forward fold (Uttanasana) off the mat.
COMPUTER YOGA: We all need a little more ease in our poses so try practicing your Chair Pose, (Utkatasana) while typing away. Sitting in a chair and using a computer is second nature to all of us no matter what you do for a living. When we are most unaware of our posture is when we are concentrated on other mental tasks. Think of setting your body up in 3 sets of 90-degree angles at the knees, hips, and elbows. Maybe even more importantly, when at your computer, ensure your wrists align at the same height as your elbows. This is your Computer yoga prescription, Chair Pose (Utkatasana) off the mat.
READING or TV YOGA: There are so many ways we can practice yoga while enjoying a little TV or book time. First, choose the floor. One of the best ways to disrupt strong posture is by sitting in chairs and on couches. Take your sitting positions to a Wide Angled seated position, (Upavistha Konasana) This position will open your hips, stretch your hamstrings and build strength in the lower back muscle and core.
Yoga is a practice that is physical, metaphysical, mental, and spiritual. It is not just practiced on the mat or prescribed to you to help heal and perform as preventative measures. It is a way of life that when fully integrated, helps us manage day-to-day stresses that exist mentally and physically on and off the mat.