Yoga is more than just stretching on a mat. It’s about making connections within ourselves with the objects around us. It’s good for our health and making positive changes in our bodies, but what is yoga off the mat, and what are the ways to practice it?
Yoga off the mat is the practice of bringing the yoga qualities of patience, endurance, and tolerance into your everyday life. These qualities can be used to handle the everyday stressors we experience. The best part is you can incorporate yoga off the mat into whatever time of day works for you.
Let’s take a closer look at what yoga off the mat is and seven of the best ways to practice it in your everyday life.
Yoga off the Mat: A Brief Overview
When you think of yoga, you think of sitting on a mat while an instructor tells you to move your body into different (sometimes difficult) positions. As you do that, you’re supposed to breathe and meditate, focusing on an intention that you want to incorporate into your day.
Well, how does that translate into life off the mat? Aside from practicing different positions and stretches, yoga can be brought into your everyday life without changing too much of your own daily habits. It’s about refocusing your mind on the fundamentals of yoga throughout the day, rather than just when you’re working on the mat.
If the tranquility of yoga is something you’d love to have throughout your entire day, practicing yoga off the mat is the best way to get it. Below you’ll find seven ways to do just that, and none of them will require you to change too much of your daily routine. In fact, you can practice yoga in your car while sitting in traffic.
Set an Intention (As Early as Possible)
An intention is a goal you have in mind for yourself that you set at the beginning of your yoga session. When you meditate at the end of the session, you’ll think back to the intention you set at the beginning. However, this is an aspect of yoga that doesn’t need to be limited to the mat.
The best time to set your intention is in the morning when you first wake up. This helps you by focusing your mind on this new way of practicing yoga. It also gets your mind aligned with the needs of your body.
When you wake up, take a mental look at what your body needs for that day. Make that your intention and try to keep it at the front of your mind throughout the day. For example, you might need a little more self-care when you wake up. If that’s the case, set your intention as being present for yourself. Use this intention to say no to new obligations that might overwhelm you.
Breathe Through the Stress
Breathing is one of the biggest parts of yoga, and it’s always important to use deep, mindful breathing throughout the day. The best time to do this breathing is when a stressor comes up. These stressors can be anything in your life.
When you start to feel anxious, nervous, or afraid, remember to focus your breathing. Breathe into your belly and bring your mind into the present moment. Keep your thoughts on your intention, and keep your breathing as even as possible.
In life, there will be times when you want to convey a certain attitude, and yoga micro-postures can help you do that. Not only is that a great way to practice yoga off the mat, but it can give you the confidence you need to get things done during the day.
There are plenty of ways you can do this in your everyday life. For example, if you’re in charge of a large group of people at work and need to step into an authoritative role, a micro-warrior pose would help you accomplish that. This would involve keeping your gaze forward, arms in a straight line at your side, and a leg slightly forward and bent.
Check out the video below for more micro-postures:
Stay in the Present
As with the intention that you set in the morning, remember to stay in the present. This goes beyond not dwelling on the things you need to do tomorrow or the things that have happened in the past. Those are important things to practice as well, but when you’re in the present, you’re focusing on the sensations in your body.
This means stopping during the day to close your eyes and think about what your body is experiencing. It’s also important to let your body feel the way it’s feeling. Not only will it allow you to work through the emotion faster, but suppressing the sensations we feel in our body is also mentally draining.
When something stressful occurs, allow yourself a moment to feel through those sensations in your body. Continue to do deep, mindful breathing as you do it. You might find yourself overcoming the stress faster than if you tried to ignore it.
Be Mindful of the Food You Eat
Food has a way of changing our entire day if it doesn’t agree with us. Being conscious of the food we put into our bodies requires discipline and endurance. It’s easy to eat food that isn’t beneficial to us.
We only have one body, and the food we eat can influence that body in several negative ways that go beyond just weight gain. Food can cause brain fog and fatigue, which will hinder your ability to practice yoga mindfulness in your daily life.
Clear the Clutter in Your Life
With clutter comes chaos, and chaos prevents the mindfulness needed to practice yoga off the mat. If your space is cluttered, it’s going to cloud your mind with endless to-do lists and things that will prevent you from being present within yourself.
Keep your space as free of clutter as you can. Throw away or donate things that you don’t need or use anything. Clear out your closets of the clothes that don’t fit anymore or clothes you haven’t worn in years. There are plenty of places that will gladly accept donations.
When you keep a clear area of living, your mind will be able to think clearer. Don’t do it all at once. Take it slow and really think about the things you’re holding onto. Ask yourself why that is and see if you can refocus those thoughts.
Begin the Day With Gratitude
Start your day with gratitude, and you’ll see a change in how you approach daily stressors. After you set your intention for the day, when you wake up, send up a silent prayer for something that you’re grateful for. It can be anything (such as the dream you had the night before or the air in your lungs), and it only takes a moment to do so.
You don’t need a mat to receive the benefits of practicing yoga. There are always ways that you can incorporate the lifestyle into your everyday routines. Not only does yoga help strengthen our physical bodies, but practicing these qualities of endurance, patience, and tolerance will also help with our mental health.
Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of what yoga off the mat is and seven helpful ways to practice it in your everyday life.
- Yoga International: The Ultimate Guide to Taking Yoga Off the Mat
- Dr. Debra Campbell: Yoga – Off The Mat & Into Life
- Gaiam: YOGA OFF THE MAT
- EYP: EMBODIED YOGA PRINCIPLES POSTURE GUIDE
- Do You Yoga: 5 Ways To Practice Yoga Off the Mat
- Yoga Digest: TOOLS FOR TAKING YOGA OFF THE MAT
- Bad Yogi: 5 Ways to Live Yoga Off the Mat
- Be Here Now Network: Yoga Off The Mat – Exploring the 8 Limbs of Yoga
- YouTube: How to get yoga off the mat – Micro postures
- Reflexion Yoga: Practicing My Yoga Off The Mat – by Valerie Perrone
- Kripalu: Five Steps for Taking Yoga Off the Mat
- Sivana Spirit: 8 Practical Ways To Take Your Yoga Practice ‘Off The Mat’ And Into Your Life
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