Practicing yoga asana is (relatively) easy. We pull on our Lululemons (or not) and we show up. We follow instructions, we move, we listen to our body, we breathe… Despite it being a brilliant way to make our day feel better, it only dominates a small chunk of time from the 16 or so hours we’re awake.

But your teacher probably talks about taking your practice off the mat. Maybe they’ve even mentioned something mysterious about the 8 limbs of yoga. But how does this work in a busy, complicated, and stressful life? What does this even look like? We’re not in a snazzy yoga environment and we’ve got little people pestering us for food, big people pestering us about bills, maybe even a furry thing chewing your shoes or peeing on your living-room carpet. What’s the yoga practice then?

Here’s my favourite ways to continue your yoga practice after your mat’s been rolled up:

1. Connect to nature

This is where we can most often get the energy associated with a yoga class. Going for a walk, a paddle, a surf, or just staring at the clouds with a coffee in-hand – this is a way to get some perspective, breathe in fresh air, down-regulate your nervous system, and get the same satisfying sensation a good yoga class can give you.

2. Self-compassion

Hopefully you’re getting this from your yoga classes: it doesn’t matter whether you can or not, it doesn’t matter what outfit you’re wearing, how many handstands you bust out, or how many child’s poses you rest in. And this is a big thing to take into the rest of your day; you don’t have to fit in or conform, you’re enough just as you are. Take a moment to give yourself a high-five, tell your reflection in the mirror how awesome you are, or wear your favourite outfit. This is especially true when you’re going through hard times, or when you’ve made mistakes. Be kind to yourself, you’re a wonderfully imperfect human being.

3. Be kind

It’s a big, obvious one, but often one of the hardest. When life doesn’t go your way, when someone cuts you up in traffic, when you read the comments section of a divisive social media post, this is when we need to dig the deepest and step into our practice. Can we be compassionate for people who think and feel differently to us? Can we be compassionate for the angry guy who steals your parking spot? Can we be compassionate to ourselves when we snap at a toddler? We don’t know the burdens people bear, the hardships they endure, the day they’ve just had. Let’s be kind (to ourselves, too (see number 2 in this list)). This is what makes the world a brighter place, and it’s one of the best lessons from our yoga practice.

4. Make decisions from joy

Maybe not so obvious is the notion that we can’t get it wrong. We worry so much about right and wrong, when actually, if we’re sticking to kindness and self-compassion as a rule, we actually can’t get it wrong. What if we made decisions from a more joyful place instead? So, when a big (or small) choice comes up for you, lean into the route that makes you feel better, warmer-and-fuzzier, and that brings a smile to your face.

Of course, this isn’t always possible if, for instance, we’re choosing which electric provider to go for, or something else equally tedious. But when you think of the way you’re raising your kids, choosing a career, posting on social media, running your business, choosing your hobbies… to me, the yoga way of navigating our lives isn’t one of right or wrong; ultimately, this live—your life—should be one of joy, happiness, and ease. So let’s make decisions from that place.

I hope this motivates you to always keep up your practice, even when the class is over. Yoga is an amazing way to make our lives, and the lives of the people around us, brighter, calmer, and way more joyful. Let’s make that our mission when we step on the mat, and see how it can impact our days.

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Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 01/09/2023

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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