If I could engage in just one fitness activity a week, it would be yoga. Yoga is more than exercise; it is a practice that helps you build strength of mind, body, and spirit. Many of the lessons I have learned through yoga have become analogies for how I do my best to live a yoga-inspired life off the mat.
1. Set an Intention
On the Mat- When we begin a yoga session, we are asked to set an intention. It must always be something positive that you wish to cultivate during your practice. Bringing a desired intention to your focused mind will assist in harvesting it into reality. Some examples might be: paying attention to your breathing, being grateful for where you are at this moment, passing no judgment on yourself or others, having patience with yourself, getting rid of negativity, and opening your mind and body to receive peace, love and gratitude.
Off the Mat- Setting intentions in our daily lives can help us to achieve our most-desired hopes and dreams. Setting intentions allows us to trust in the universe or greater power to assist in achieving those dreams and relinquish some of our personal control. Depak Chopra’s,”5 Steps to Harness the Power of Intention” discusses the power of setting intentions and the importance of remaining present and unfocused on outcomes.
2. Dedicate your Practice to Someone
On the Mat – We are often asked at the beginning of class to dedicate our practice. We are encouraged to select someone who is struggling and could use the extra comfort and support. Dedicating our practice helps us to stay present and propagates the sharing of the positive energy we have gained through practice.
Off the Mat- By dedicating our practice to someone, we are offering up that we are all in this journey of life together and are part of a greater effort to breed peace, love, and kindness throughout the world.
3. Maintain the Integrity of a Pose
On the Mat- If you are in Warrior One pose, your muscles should be engaged from the ground up, from your toes to the tips of your fingers, pointed up to the sky. When assuming the pose, you should be using your entire body–every muscle engaged and doing its part to add to the pose. If one part is sluggish and not fully performing its role, the integrity of the pose is lost.
Off the Mat- As a nutritionist, I prefer a holistic approach when looking at health. We need all the systems to work synergistically, not concentrating on a single area of diet or body function that might be falling short of it’s duties. We also must honor the parts that are sluggish and understand how they fit in aggregate. Sometimes it takes time, strength, and patience to achieve the full expression of the pose–and this is aligned with our health.