Your yoga practice does not have to be separate from everyday life. In fact, you can practice yoga constantly—whether you’re commuting, talking to a client, arguing with a loved one, or exhausted from a long day. With a little practice, you can be in a yogic state every moment.
Like so many others, I used to think I had to set aside big chunks of time to be dedicated to my practice. This of course can be difficult as our lives are so busy. So, how do we build a successful practice that offers real, permanent transformation and allows us to live our truth? The answer, as answers often are, is so simple. By finding small, sustainable ways to change our habits. The benefits and the feeling of peace and calm will make those small moments grow into bigger moments—until we stay in a state of yoga all day long.
I’m sure this sounds daunting and impossible, but it’s really not. In my own life, I have found very simple ways to come back to the present moment again and again, and little by little it’s where you want to stay.
Let me explain by describing some of the small things that have worked for me over the years:
When I first wake in the morning, I don’t jump out of bed. I lie there for a moment and just take three deep breaths putting all of my attention on the entire inhale and the entire exhale. This sets the stage for everything that comes after my feet hit the floor. I no longer immediately grab my phone. I leave it on the nightstand and go directly to my meditation bench. I don’t try to sit for an hour; I only promise myself to sit a few moments. If I stay longer because it feels right, so be it. If not, I have no judgment about it and I go about my day.
I prioritize meditation over movement, but if time allows I will place my mat and with the same approach, attempt a few moments of asana. I have the same promise to myself here—I will move just a few moments in a very mindful way where the breath is more important than the actual motion. If I stay longer, so be it. If I don’t, no judgment.
Then I make a hot drink, coffee or tea, but I do it slowly and mindfully. As the water mixes with the beans or tea leaves, I pay attention to the aroma that arises and I smell for a moment before I sip. And as I do sip, I give thanks for the sustenance coming into my body.
Another beautiful moment for me is the pause I allow when I step in the shower each day. Again, three long completely present breaths. It only takes a few seconds, but it reminds me again to come back to center. To look for the truth all day long.
As you can see so far, just a few moments here and there and my day is starting in a very connected, calm, and beautiful way.
As I begin my workday, there are other simple and easy practices. Some years ago, I was burning out. My business, although successful, it was not fulfilling me. A wise teacher told me that it was only because of my perception. He reminded me that my business is service to others and I need to see it that way so that my work can actually be yoga. One simple way I do this is before answering the phone, I always take a breath and ask myself, “how can I best serve this person?” and then I answer.
I speak to many people throughout my days and another form of yoga practice to me is deep listening. So when I’m in a conversation—in person or on the phone—I don’t allow myself to be distracted. I give them all of my attention and it feels great to be so connected to another.
When I return home at the end of the day, and I see the sun beginning to sink in the sky, no matter what the weather I try my best to watch the sunset outside. Again reminding me that I am part of nature, that everything comes and goes, nothing is permanent, and once again I breathe, I feel my feet on the earth and I sense my truth.
I hope these ideas are helpful ways to constantly be in your practice. Spiritual practice is not some ‘thing’ that you do in a particular way. It’s not a ritual, it’s a way of being in the world that supports your true nature. You’ll know when you’re doing it, because everything will be easeful and just feel right. Everything around you will get better by doing all of these simple little things that are replenishing and joyful.