My yoga practice is about so much more than asanas
I discovered yoga in my early 20s and have practiced it off and on ever since. I have taken breaks from yoga over the years, but about three years ago, I made a solid commitment to my practice and haven't taken a break since.
Yoga is an all-in-one practice. It's a workout, a meditation practice and a spiritual practice all in one. For me, yoga fulfills all of my needs to connect emotionally, spiritually, creatively, and physically with my body and nature.
As I continue to practice and learn more about yoga and the mind-body connection, I find ways in which I apply yoga to other daily chores, like washing dishes, writing emails or making business decisions. When I approach these daily tasks from a yogic sense, I am better at everything I do, because I am staying present in the moment, true to myself, open and flexible. I'm also giving each task (no matter how mundane) my full attention, and approaching life with an open heart.
These are the tenets of yoga that I can bring off my mat and into my life. Pay attention to what the yoga instructor is saying during class and start noticing how you can apply her instruction to your every day.
How I vary my yoga practice
Yoga is perfect for me because I can adjust my practice to my needs, both physically and emotionally. Some days I need to release energy to calm my body and mind. On these days, I practice more vigorously, increasing my heart rate, matching my breath with my movement and warming my body and mind for more challenging postures.
Other days I may have low energy, so I honor my body and move slowly, taking time with the stretches, tuning into my alignment and focusing on my breath. There are other times when I focus on strengthening my body, holding poses for longer periods of time to challenge my muscles and my mind to endure through difficult times.
How yoga helps me creatively
Yoga is a creative outlet for me too. Stringing together asana as a poet strings together words. Flowing through a sequence in rhythm with my breath like a dancer. I move from posture to posture without much thought, letting my body tell me what it needs in each moment. Put on your favorite music and just start moving.
I especially enjoy practicing outdoors in nature. To connect with nature through movement and breath is a real treat and elevates the spiritual aspect of my practice. I feel nourished through my senses and by the experience. I can take the time to tune into all of my senses when I am outside and feel the wind on my cheeks, smell the pine trees, taste the salt air on my tongue, and listen to the pounding surf as the ocean meets the rock, while exploring Mohegan Island through my yoga retreat.
How to find the right yoga practice for you
If you have not found the style of yoga that works for you, keep these four things in mind:
- Yoga is a tool for finding balance in life. For instance, if you are on the go from morning to night most days, you may want to try a meditative, gentle yoga. On the other hand, if your days are relatively sedentary and quiet, a more vigorous vinyasa style may do just the trick.
- There is a wide variety of styles to fit every personality and body need.
- If you haven't found an instructor you resonate with, keep exploring — you will find the right one for you. If you don't have access to a variety in your area, there are loads of online options.
- If you have a workout you are already committed to, like running, swimming or weight lifting, yoga will make the perfect complement to balance, stretch and strengthen your muscles and mind. You'll find your athletic performance will improve.
Yoga is the practice that helped me most to adopt a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, and it keeps me on track both physically and emotionally. That is why I practice daily, even if five minutes is all the time I have. These are the reasons I share the practice of yoga with others. My hope is to invoke the same emotional connections and positive benefits for others so that they too can experience the power of yoga in their life.