3 ways to bring more yoga into your daily life
Safia Bowley shares three tips on how to bring more yoga to your day-to-day life
You can't pour from an empty cup. Prioritising self-care on a regular basis is an investment in you. Nurturing and restoring to maintain our own physical and mental health first is key; we are then better able to support others. No need to scrimp on this, thinking it's 'selfish', we owe it to ourselves (and others). So much else depends on acts of self-care as a foundation for a healthy and happy life. This could mean allocating time to plan, make and eat healthy and delicious food (but forgiving ourselves on the days when we just don't have the time or energy! If we can get it right the majority of the time, that's good enough!). It could also mean re-scheduling plans in order to make time for proper rest when it's most needed. It could be all sorts of things: spending time with someone who always brings a smile to your face, inspires and makes you feel better; it could be a favourite walk, food, place, activity or listening to a piece of music. Make time to nourish your body, mind and soul.
2. Get grounded
No matter what goes on around us, we learn in practicing yoga regularly to be able to tap into a feeling of calm, quiet, inner stillness, and to trust that it is always there. If we are sitting on our yoga mat, in a beautiful and peaceful studio space, finding this can be fairly straightforward. However, outside of the yoga studio, in the traffic, in the middle of a working day or in a domestic setting with all sorts going on, other people's voices, energies and expectations around, this becomes much more challenging. Sometimes we might even start to lose hope. If this happens, we can use our breath to help us in getting connected again. Let the breath relax, bring all of your focus to its steady rise and fall, to the belly, to the rhythm, to a long exhale. Feel strong and steady in mountain pose. Plant your feet and stay awhile, remembering that beneath any stress, tension or emotional attachment, there is an ocean of calm.
“A mountain is completely relaxed and at ease with itself, however strong the winds that batter it, however thick the dark clouds that swirl around its peak.” - Sogyal Rinpoche
Yoga isn't a quick fix to make all our problems go away. However, the alchemy within a regular practice helps us to shed layers of the stresses, dilemmas, and situations that build up around us; the day-to-day combination of thoughts and emotions that affect us all in different ways. If we have a regular routine to help wash away those built-up layers, we will be regularly refreshed and connected with our roots and unique identity.
Meditation, even in its simplest form, offers this. This might be a specific yoga-inspired visualisation, or simply setting aside time to sit quietly, but it might equally be a creative activity in which we become completely absorbed. Anything that allows those layers of thoughts, worries and internal chatter to fall away, leaving us to find our true self, pure and shining, without all those other influences.
When this becomes a habit (it's not something we do once and then don't have to do again), we shine. If we feel stuck, we have the power within to light a path ahead, seeing possibilities of action, and we become empowered. Shine, and find your superpower!
“We are shining. And we will never be afraid again.” - Florence and the Machine
Safia Bowley is a yoga teacher at Yoga Life studio in Eastbourne (yogaeastbourne.com) who has been practicing for over 20 years. Find out more at: safiahelenyoga.com
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.