There are many reasons for practicing yoga: Improved fitness, stress-management, finding happiness, finding balance in daily life,… the list is endless. If we look at the bigger picture, we practice yoga in order to live life to the fullest, with grace and with a relaxed mind. The lessons from the mat are ultimately a practice of self-awareness, and every aspect of the practice is a valuable guide on how to apply those lessons “off the mat. Whether in asana, pranayama or meditation, the fine-tuned awareness during practice is difficult to simulate outside of yoga practice. That is because there is not as much external stimulation when you are on your mat – your time in yoga practice allows you more self-awareness. To connect to that heightened sense of self-awareness, spend some time focusing on your intentions as well as your choices, both big and small. Notice the affect on yourself, your family as well as your community. Your yoga practice leads you to following your intention. Thus, when making choices, tap into your yogic grounding in self-awareness, and this will help to connect your true self to your dharma, your true calling. Live your yoga with these 6 simple ways to connect self-awareness with understanding your place in the world:
1. Love Yourself – Begin your day with a Dinacharya, Ayurvedic morning routines based on your dosha/constitution, to include a self massage. Make a salt scrub with equql parts Himalayan salt, Epsom salt, and sesame oil. Add a few drops of essential oil and massage the entire body, from the feet toward the heart and armpits and from the hands toward the heart and armpits, to aid in lymph drainage and cleansing of the body. Add a few drops of eucalyptus and/or basil essential oil to support the both the skin and the respiratory system. Shower and pat dry to enjoy nourished skin and continued aromatherapy. If you need help with access to pure essential oils, please reach out to us.
2. Practice Kindness Toward Others – Karma Yoga is defined as action done as self-less service to others as a form of divine worship. You’ll be surprised at how enriching it is to lend a helping hand and share in someone else’s perspective and existence. Take a meal to a friend, spend time with a shut-in, tutor a child, drive someone to a medical appointment, donate to your local food pantry, serve at a homeless shelter, teach yoga to empower others…the world depends on all of us and those who have less still have much to offer if only we allow them the necessities to support their needs first.
3. Substitute a Restorative Practice Once/Week – To become aware of our mind’s habits (ego driven), we must act from our seat of intuition, from our heart. Allow the mind and body to quiet by embracing a restorative practice with regularity. Begin by sitting in meditation and include awareness of breath, and then a breathing exercise. Follow your intuition, using gentle stretches and then a restorative pose or two. For more on restorative poses, see the 6th sequence in our DVD: Essential Yoga Practice: Your Guide to the New Yoga Experience With Essential Oils.
4. Be Aware of Your Footprint – Being aware of how you live and interact with your world leads to how you share space with others and how you appreciate gifts of the earth. Be aware of how you clean up after yourself, find ways to recycle, use energy wisely, and find ways to support the environment. Saucha, the first Niyama, or discipline for yogic living, includes cleanliness as well as tidiness.
5. Be Silent – Set aside time regularly to be silent, you’ll be surprised at the rest your body and mind will find as some perceive silence as a way to conserve prana, energy. Note how this allows energy for your creative side whether it is merely contemplative thoughts or quiet time to engage in actively creating.
6. Change Your Perspective – Whether you choose to do your yoga practice in a different place, be courageous to trust your body to try new asanas, eat in a new restaurant, volunteer, travel to a new destination, or take a new route to work, changing the path of what is typical will allow you to shift your perspective. Our world is defined by what we have seen and experienced and there is so much more to learn and to appreciate. Our sense of compassion and empathy will grow tremendously when we allow ourselves to grow our awareness of the world we live in.