If you practice Yoga or are interested in it in any way, you may have heard the term “yoga off the mat”. It is a term that is thrown around quite a lot but often there is not much emphasis on practising yoga off the matt, or as some like to call it ‘everyday yoga’.
I recently saw a picture of an iceberg, in which the top part was physical yoga as most people know, and the under-part of the iceberg (the much larger and also hidden part) was the rest of yoga. It really resonated with me and the idea that the physical practise of Yoga (Asana) is only a small fragment of what Yoga really is.
The simplest way of thinking about this is Patanjali’s eight limb path to Yoga (Ashtanga). The physical practise of Yoga (Asana) is number three on this path. To learn more about Patanjali, Ashtanga and the Yoga Sutras head over here.
Taking Yoga off the mat and into your everyday life is an incredible way to not only explore Yoga deeper, but also to make healthy and positive changes to your life.
Myself and Ann-See from My Kind of Yoga are hosting a Yoga Challenge dedicated to just this. We want to introduce our members and followers to how you can take Yoga into your everyday – and easily. We want everyone to take Yoga off their mat. Take it into their life. Love themselves. Connect. Be brave. Nourish. Earthing. Meditate. Smile.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s he talked about Niyama’s. This is the second step in the eightfold Yoga path, loosely translated at ‘personal observances’, or ‘the behaviour to yourself’. Much like all of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, this is not an action or an exercise, but something to study. A way to live. This is what we are going to be exploring through this Yoga Challenge.
Day One – Love Yourself
There’s that old saying that you can’t love another unless you love yourself. And boy oh boy do I truly believe this. I am an avid supporter of all things self love – if you don’t love yourself it makes it very difficult to love what you do, and live your life the way you truly want to. I honestly believe that loving yourself is key to being happy.
Today we want you to TREAT yourself. Be that practising Yoga, sleeping in, saying no to people who sap your energy, take a long bath. Start the day treating yourself to what you love and the rest will follow.
Day Two – Earthing
Oh Mother Nature you beauty! Being in nature is surprisingly an amazing mood-enhancer. For example, I was walking home from work a few weeks ago in heavy rain. I was soaked, tired and miserable. For some reason however I decided to take a detour home through the fields and woods near my home. I instantly felt better and knew that I had just needed some earthing, some nature, some fresh air, some greenery.
This is what we want to you to do. Take a walk in nature. Sit in a field and watch the world. Take a picnic. Walk bare foot in a field / park / garden (if you are in the middle on a city…)
Day Three – Nourish
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD. I love food. I’m pants at cooking but I try and that the main thing. I absolutely love food. I 100% live to eat, not eat to live.
Today we want you to nourish yourself. Cook yourself a beautiful meal. Or if you are no kitchen wizard, head out to your favourite place to grab a bite. Try to be ethical and nutritious with your food. Nourish your mind, soul and stomach.
Day Four – Connect
The people in your life make you who you are. Your family, your friends, even your pets. They are who you are, and your loved ones have this weird ability to make you a happier and healthy person. Personally, my family are everything and since moving out I have a new higher appreciation of my family and really cherish the moments I have with them. The same with friends. My friends are dotted all over the country so when we are all back together we all cherish the opportunity.
We want you to connect with your friends or family (or pet). Spend some time with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Ring your mum, or visit her if you can. Snuggle your puppy. Cuddle your cat. CONNECT with those who are most important to you.
Day Five – Be Brave
So many people are afraid to try new things. Venture out of their comfort zones and explore something they would never have. Be that new food, going to a class, going traveling, asking someone out. Change is something that, ironically, will never change. And it shouldn’t be feared – its is important to learn new things, venture out of our comfort zones and be brave.
Thats what we are challenging you to today – be brave. Try something new, do something you have never done before. Order something different from the menu. Go to that class you have been thinking about going but never have – go by yourself! Spend a whole day doing things by yourself (this is a common fear). Be brave!
Day Six – Meditate
When you practise Yoga, meditation comes naturally alongside. Meditation is one of those things that seems weird and scary – how can you just sit and think of nothing? This is one of the biggest misconceptions of meditation, yes sitting in Lotus Pose and closing your mind off is meditation but there are so many other ways you can meditate. For example guided meditation (you can find these online), mantra meditation, and even things such as dance meditations.
We want you to dedicate some time of your day for mediation, be that 10 minutes or an hour. This can be anything that works for you to help you switch off and turn in; journaling, those mediation colouring books, stargazing, reading or the ‘classic’ idea of mediation.
Day Seven – Smile
Smiling is the easiest way to brighten your day, as well as others. Share your inner joy with others. Feel great inside. Smiling has the ability to lighten your mood, even when you are feeling down.
SMILE! Smile as much as possible today.
To get involved we want you to share a picture of each challenge. Understandably some may be harder to capture in an image, therefore you can post the daily image that we put up (or just anything!) with a caption about what you did and how it made you feel, your thoughts and musings.