Sometimes in the heat of a yoga class (not just a Bikram class) we forget why we are actually doing these complicated movements. How is putting our leg behind our head and hovering in handstand going to help us in our real life? Well, ultimately the intention behind the science of yoga is to learn how to relax into whatever life presents. The parking ticket, the student loans, the messy marriage, all of it. How? Well yoga has these benefits:
- Reduced tension
- More energy
- Feeling your body
- Connecting with your core values and motivation.
- What’s the point of it all?
- Empathy for others
Based on this, it is plausible that yoga may help you adapt to whatever life presents. Yet, most students and teachers I explore the nuances of yoga with, say it’s all about the stretching or the strengthening. That is why we keep coming back. I definitely lose track of the metaphor that yoga class is an opportunity to be able to take complicated situations in a safe environment and learn how to adapt. Each pose, each transition, each instruction is providing an opportunity to cultivate an ability to be relaxed and aware. Result… The bullet points above. Wallah! So, how long does it take? Well, that is why yoga class is not the end all be all. When you check in with your daily life and see if you are bringing what you learned in your yoga practice forward into your life, you accelerate the timeline.
The characteristics and practices found within the yoga class petri dish that can be infused into your daily life are:
Observing tension in your body
In class you are attuned to all that is happening in your body, but when you are typing at work do you notice if you have tension? If so, are there certain situations that initiate it and where do you feel it? When it arises, do you hold onto it or do you practice releasing it with your breath or your mind? Tension is inevitable but is doesn’t make things easier or better. There is no way to insulate ourselves so that we don’t experience it, but we can learn to observe it. Once we know it is there then we have a choice and can do something about it.
Many teachers may ask you to set your intention for yoga practice, but do you set specific priorities for your day? Not only what you want to accomplish, but how do you want to feel? By setting your priorities for the day you can act in alignment with them. If you forget them, then consider putting a reminder on your phone or a sticky note on your computer or somewhere else that you will see it. This will help you to make the decisions that support your priorities. If your priority is connection and community, then you will take steps to meet new people and build your existing friendships. If you intention is to feel light, then you will choose foods and meal quantities that work with that. If you don’t set a priority, you have no control over the results of your day and no way to measure your success and celebrate your victories.
Create tech free time
This is perhaps the biggest gift of a yoga class. When you are constantly checking your phone or your news feed, then you lose track of yourself. Without knowing what is on the inside, it is impossible to take control of what is happening on the outside. By honoring at least 90 minutes of tech free time daily, you can reconnect with yourself and become in alignment with your own unique needs and desires.
Visualize yourself relaxing
So many of us are running from one thing to the next and barely have time to take a deep breath. This level of activity makes it hard to remember how to relax. Think of the end of your yoga class, where you get to melt away into the floor and feel all the benefits of your effort. By visualizing yourself relaxing, you can bring that state of calm and composure into any part of your day. It can be useful to imagine yourself in the middle of a lotus flower like the many patron saints of yoga. The flower petals surround and protect you and you know with certainty that you are safe no matter what happens. With this understanding, you can relax into whatever life brings your way.
There is so much more that can be learned from yoga class and infused into our day, but most of us take on too much as it is, so this is a lunge in the right direction. Hopefully these recommendations will help you be more adaptable and allow you to embrace what life has to offer so you can live in a more whole hearted way.