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In this day and age, everyone is always on the go, busy, rushing from A to B, and it can be quite challenging to find time to do yoga every day. Jobs, families, to-do lists - it all seems to get in the way, so how does one establish a daily yoga practice?
First: it’s all about prioritizing. How can you take care of others (your family, your job) if you haven't taken care of yourself?
Second: re-think the word 'Yoga'. It’s wonderful if you consistently practice Vinyasa yoga for 1.5 hours every day, but guess what - there’s more to yoga than daily asanas. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been trying and can’t seem to find the time. Here are a few tips on how to get there. Once you’re conscious of the opportunities you hold, it will fall into place naturally.
Yoga on the beach
Of course not everyone has the opportunity to spend time on the beach regularly, some of us barely have time to take a vacation, but, if you ever do find yourself on a beach, realize the opportunity to connect with creation!
You don’t have to practice Asanas to do yoga on the beach - try a walking meditation. Feel the breeze, notice the nature, the animals, the sounds, the scents. Or simply find a spot you feel drawn to, sit in an easy seated, cross legged position (Sukhasana), and meditate. The same goes for hiking trips - if you tend to hit the mountains instead of the beach.
If you’re thinking of practicing your Vinyasa or Hatha sequence on the beach, be prepared to not only get full of sand from head to toe, and quite possibly in your mouth, but also get ready to use all of your core strength to be able to stay in the postures. Beach yoga challenges your balance, but you're rewarded with a dip in the refreshing water to cool off and cleanse. Cleanse your body, your mind, your soul.
Yoga while cooking
It's easy to quickly throw something together to satisfy your hunger, but how is it prepared? In a hurry? Is it nourishing? One of the reasons why so many of us are challenged with health issues is because we're not getting the nourishment that our bodies need. When you prepare your meals, focus not only on making sure that you're eating a balanced meal consisting of whole foods, but that you prepare it with love and nourishing thoughts. Make it look and taste delicious. Focus on colors, presentation and taste, and most importantly, prepare it with Love - the best nourishment you can get.
Yoga while eating meals
Eat mindfully - Sit comfortably, meditate on the deliciousness of your food instead of watching TV or reading social media. Or, share a meal with someone special and have an uplifting, light hearted conversation.
Yoga while walking your dog (or cat?)
Again, perfect time for a walking meditation. Take each step mindfully and enjoy the fresh air. Take this time to bond with your companion, there’s nothing like a walk in nature to bond and heal.
Yoga at work
Say what? Yes. Most people have desk jobs these days - great opportunities for yoga all day long! First, focus on your posture - make sure your chair and desk are aligned properly so your elbows are at 90 degrees. Elongate your spine, ground your sits bones and reach them straight down towards the earth, tighten your core and draw your naval towards your spine, open your chest and draw your shoulders back and down your spine. Slight chin lock. Reach the crown of your head towards the sky. Not only will you be improving your posture, you'll also develop core strength. Remember to get up and walk around for 5-10 minutes every hour to clear your head and re-focus your energy.
Another opportunity to practice yoga at work is during your communications with your colleagues, your boss, and your clients. How do you approach them? What language do you use? How do their words affect you? This is a great time to practice the Yamas.
Yoga while cleaning
Few people enjoy cleaning and instead of trying to get it done as quickly as possible, take your time and practice meditation, focus on the now, and look for the joy of the present moment. You can actually manage to be fully present in the now and love it.
Yoga while driving the car
Instead of complaining about traffic, why not practice yoga instead? In place of your usual complaining, why not meditate, and think of all the good things in your life. Create a list of positive aspects in your head - Think of as many pleasant things as you can - either about the moment, or life in general. You'll be surprised how much better your driving experience will be!
Yoga while communicating with your partner
Whether or not we’re wiling to see it, there can be a lot of Ego involved when it comes to communicating in relationships. It’s good to be concious of your choice of words, the tone of your voice, your body language and your energy, but really all it takes is awareness. Noticing it, then letting it go. It’s a work in progress for all of us.
Yoga while interacting with your children
Very few people interact consciously with their kids and animal companions. As parents, we can get carried away by our mind chatter and focus too much on control when interacting with our children. Try to be mindful of your commands and requests and don't forget to add simple words like please and thank you when speaking to your little ones.
Yoga while rising in the morning
One of the best changes I have made in my life is rising early and enjoying the morning peacefully by establishing a sadhana practice. Theres really nothing worse than a loud, obnoxious alarm to wake you up - it immediately increases your stress levels. Resist the temptation to check news and social media and save that for later - no need to be bombarded with negativity and world’s problems as soon as you wake up.
Natural daylight and the sounds of the birds singing is the best way to wake up. Of course, in order to do that you have to start going to bed early as well. My own body needs 8-9 hours of sleep, but I have friends who awaken naturally after 5 hours. Even if you’re a late sleeper and whatever your preferred time to wake is, start with an extra 30 minutes and dedicate this time to yourself to develop your own unique sadhana. It won’t be long until you find yourself ready to invest even more time into your morning routine as you will notice that the whole day will be affected by it. If you already have morning yoga asana practice, great. If not, start with a short morning meditation, contemplating over a cup of tea, or listening to your favorite inspirational music. Even better if you have time to move your body and get into a few yoga asanas.
In addition, a few Ayurvedic practices such as oil pulling, tongue scraping and then a cup of warm lemon water can do wonders. Oil pulling is a great time to meditate, and I love sitting out on the balcony listening to mother nature while drinking my lemon water. This is also a great time to read, or study the Sutras, the Gita, the Bible, the Quran, or whatever other spiritual texts you feel drawn to. During other times you might listen to your favorite spiritual music, or head out to the beach for a walking meditation or some yoga asanas. Spending time with Mother Nature will enhance your love for stillness and silence.
Yoga while getting ready for rest
As in the morning, it’s very helpful for your body, mind, and spirit if you develop an evening routine before going to bed. Shut off all electronics, including the Television, and spend some time enjoying the quietness of the evening. Start with a short meditation, an Epsom salt bath with essential oils like Lavender to help you wind down, or even a few calming yoga asanas. Also, read in the evening, but be conscious of what you’re reading - you’re trying to wind down and settle your mind.
Yoga while making love
How about a soulful love-making session connecting with your partner through spirit, and enjoying each moment, instead of just working towards the end goal? Take a step back and enjoy the closeness and connecting through the heart center. Tantra yoga can teach you how.
Lastly, remember to practice yoga asana regularly as well. Whatever your preferred lineage may be, whether is Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha, Restorative, or any of the other amazing teachings out there, do try to get on your mat at least 3 times a week. Even if it's only for 30 minutes.
You have opportunity to practice yoga every moment, every day of your life. These are just a few examples, and I can think of dozens of others. Whatever you may be doing at any given moment, practice yoga! The Yamas and the Niyamas are a wonderful set of guidelines to go by, and there are tons of books out there to help you learn about them.