A common misconception for people in their practice of yoga is that yoga is an event, a destination. I went to yoga this morning and now I’m off to do everything else I do in my normal day. Yoga is perceived as something that you go to, something that you do for an hour in a studio, a break in your regular day, but in actuality it is so, so much more.
Sometimes the phrase “yoga lifestyle” is brought up. This isn’t about being diligent in attending a weekly mat class, this is about being diligent in incorporating what you’re learning in that weekly mat class into everyday life. This doesn’t mean doing 20 Sun Salutations and attempting a headstand every morning before you make your bed, this means identifying those yoga principles that resonate most strongly to you personally and bringing them alive in your life.
Let’s break this down by considering the very word yoga. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “to yoke” or “to unite.” The idea is that the yoga practitioner yokes, or unites, breath and movement. One breath for one movement. It is through the union of breath and movement that beautiful balance comes to the body, and this, my friends is what it means to be a yogi.
Yoga is about balance. Sometimes it’s about balancing poses, but most of the time it’s about balancing in other ways. Balancing the mind’s activity with the body’s, balancing inhales with exhales, balancing heavy workloads with time for self care, balancing relationships, balancing jobs, balancing light and dark, spring and fall, noise and quiet, and much, much more.
So consider this, if you’ve been called to the mat, challenge yourself to practice yoga off the mat. With a careful eye, look at your life and ask yourself if there’s a way to create more balance in it. Do you come home from work exhausted and stressed every day? Carve out a small portion of the day and do something special, just for you. Have you been spending all of your free time with the same people? Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while and catch up. Walk the dog the opposite way around the block for a change! The possibilities are endless.
As you start to consciously bring more balance into your life off the yoga mat, start to observe where there is balance in the natural world or in the uncontrollable occurrences in life events. Day follows night, good follows bad, sun follows rain, hope follows despair, and let these little instances of balance remind you that although the path may be twisted, the journey is true.