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Challenge: Take Yoga Off the Mat

August 26, 2011

You don't need a yoga mat—or a heavenly backdrop—to practice yoga.

You dutifully show up to class every week. You own more than one pair of yoga pants. You even challenge yourself to go deeper, working on poses or meditation at home.

But how often do you take your yoga practice off the mat?

Here’s a challenge for this weekend: Think of all the situations in which you can incorporate yoga into your everyday life. Maybe it’s remembering to connect with your breath during a stressful situation, or taking five minutes to slowly, gently, peacefully come to wakefulness (Savasana-style) rather than jump out of bed when the a.m. alarm blares. You know that incredible blissful feeling you have after class each week? By thinking of new ways you can incorporate yoga into the rest of your life, you not only deepen your practice, but you’ll get little doses of that ahhh sensation all day long.

Here are a few ideas of off-the-mat yoga practices to get you inspired:

1) Waiting in line. Stave off that clenched-jaw feeling while in line at the bank or grocery store. Instead, connect with your breath; exhale stress and inhale goodness. Or, practice Mountain Pose: feet rooted to the ground, legs strong, chest lifted, shoulder blades drawing down and back. Gaze lightly ahead and feel the tension melt away.

2) At work. You can’t exactly slip into Savasana in your cubicle, but you can do some light yoga at work to loosen tight muscles and increase the flow of oxygen throughout your body. One easy favorite? The desk chair seated spinal twist: Sit up tall in your chair, and gently twist left or right from the navel, lengthening the spine with each inhale and twisting deeper with each exhale. Use the back of the chair to (gently) go farther into the twist.

3) In bed. Rather than drift right off to sleep, take a few minutes to connect with your body and breath while in bed. Hug your knees into your chest and gently rock them back and forth. Rock your neck side to side, releasing the neck muscles. Point and flex your toes. Circle your wrists.

4) In the car. Traffic stressing you out? Another great time to connect to your breath and do a mental “body scan” to release any tension (especially behind the eyes or in the jaw). Or, try some gentle neck rolls (only when your car is stopped, of course!).

Where else can you practice yoga off the mat?

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 26, 2011 4:25 pm

    Great suggestions. I’ve been trying to incorporate more “off the mat” yoga into my life, so I really appreciate this post. Lately, I’ve been doing some light stretching and breathing in bed before I drift off, and it’s done wonders for my sleep.

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