5 Ways To Practice Yoga Off The Mat

Unlocking the Power of Yoga Beyond Physical Fitness - By Chloe Markham

Reading time: 4 minutes

Okay, I’ll admit it. When I first started yoga, I was just there for the toning, the flexibility, the strength I was promised would happen if I practiced my sun sals every day. I wanted to look better, but running and burpees just weren’t doing it for me.

So, after discovering yoga in some woo-woo recess of the internet around 2017, I excitedly plopped myself onto my mat, found a teacher online I wasn’t massively intimidated by, and started at the beginning. 

Nearly 20 years later, and my life is 180-degrees different from back then. Sure, my body changed shape completely, I’m fitter, stronger, and more capable than I’ve ever been, and yes, my bread-and-butter is my online yoga studio, but my yoga practice changed the way I see and interact with the world around me. Put simply: it positively impacted every area of my life, not just my physical body.

And if you’ve ever been in a yoga class, you’ve probably heard your teacher talking about this impact on your life; they talk about taking your practice with you, taking it off the mat, being a better person because of the time you’ve spent in class today. 

But how do we actually do this? How can we find the biggest and most positive impacts from our yoga practice outside of the shiny purpose-built studio (or away from your fancy mat)?

Here are my most-practiced and impactful ways to bring your yoga into your day-to-day life, and see the life-changing effects:

1. Practice ‘boring’ mindfulness

This is, quite literally, your yoga practice in miniature. Think of this as really noticing the temperature and texture of the water when you’re washing your hands, or a moment to notice the tiny hairs in your nostrils moving with your breath. It doesn't always need to be a 15-minute meditation, or a full breath practice. Just close your eyes and take a minute away from what you're doing. This resets your brain to a more sage-like state, allowing you to be present, calm, and grounded, even when life starts to get a little hectic.


2. Be nicer to yourself

Every yoga class should encourage you to feel capable, welcome, and supported. This is regardless of how many handstands you throw in, or how often you take a childs' pose; regardless of your outfit, or how often you show up to practice. This is a huge mission to take with us into the rest of our lives. How can you show up for yourself more often in your life? Say nice things about yourself in the mirror, give yourself a high-five for a job well done (or for just making your bed in the morning), and wear your favourite outfit that makes you feel like a god(dess). 

So often, the yoga world (and the world in general) can make us feel less-than. We’re encouraged to dislike our appearance, we’re told we’re not good enough, rich enough, capable enough. But let this be a reminder that you, in fact, are enough, regardless. Practice this one regularly and often. And when we’re kinder to ourselves, it’s easier for us to be kinder to others, too.

3. Be nicer to others (especially the ones you hate)

Following on from the above, yoga teaches us to be kind. Always be kind. This is especially important when it comes to that guy who stole your parking spot, or the folks in the comment section of a divisive social post. 

Everyone, as they say, is fighting a battle we know nothing about. Our yoga practice encourages compassion, so make a conscious effort to send some kindness into everyone you interact with. Bonus points for doing this when people do you wrong or make you mad. 


4. Get into nature

Nature is one of the best tonics for life’s ills, and one of my favourite ways to be more yogic in my every day. This article (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-018-0883-6) even tell us that "a connection with nature is associated with greater life satisfaction, lower anxiety, improved vitality, meaningfulness, happiness, creativity, pro-social behaviors, and pro-nature behaviors" - all huge aspects of our yoga practice.

Go for a walk, a surf, a paddle, or ride your bike through a forest. It really doesn’t matter how we interact with our environment, but by doing so, we’re better able to down-regulate our nervous system, find some perspective, and better deal with stress.


5. Journal*

One of the best ways to process emotions, deal with the impact of our days, and understand how to move forward with tricky situations—all important outcomes of our yoga practice—is by writing it all down. This isn’t something you’ll show anyone, not something to be published, this is just getting words out to help you make sense of your head.

I usually write 500 words a day as a part of my morning routine (https://theyogarevolution.co.uk/the-best-morning-routine/) and, honestly, it’s one of my favourite habits. It helps me be creative, process hard things, and even see emotions I didn’t realise I had. It’s another amazing tool to help us regulate our nervous system (https://theyogarevolution.co.uk/how-to-down-regulate-your-nervous-system-and-why-you-probably-need-to/), ground, be present, and be more intuitive; all things our yoga practice encourages us to focus on. 

I hope this inspires you to be more yogic outside of the confines of your mat. It really is a wonderful, life-changing practice, if only we allow it to permeate our world.

*commission earned from this link.

Chloe Markham

Chloe Markham is a joyful living coach, a yoga teacher, and a mindfulness guide with one mission: to make the world a more joyful place.