Amongst the many yoga schools and styles, studios and retreats, trainings and workshops, videos and magazines lays an unspoken truth: authentic yoga is what is taken off the mat.
Yoga, directly translating as yoke or union, is not something we do. Yoga cannot be done. Yoga simply is. Yoga is the union between our Self and our relationship with the world around us. Strive to thrive in your ongoing yoga practice by embracing your raw Self, your breath, and your constantly-evolving perspective.
|Let Life Flow|
Meet Yourself Where You Are At.
Think of the most challenging asana practice. What makes it so difficult? Strangely enough, the physical practice itself rarely has anything to do with the degree of difficulty. Our thoughts are what get in the way. How we respond to the physical poses of yoga directly relates to our response to the “real world”.
Do you take each pose with a centering breath, drawing mindful attention to the ball mounds of the feet or the alignment of our hips, reviving the stagnant energy in the Sacral Chakra? Hardly. Do you curse to yourself pushing into the 12th round of Sun Salutations? Are you planning tomorrow’s sales proposal or writing out your grocery list behind the forced exhale from the nostrils? Maybe.
Wherever you’re at, it’s okay. Release the busyness of the mind and all of the baggage and self-judgment that arrives with it. This is the first element to take off the mat: accepting yourself, being kind to yourself, and letting go.
Pranayama is a Real-Life Lesson.
As much as you love hearing the yogi next to you engage their “Darth Vader-like breath”, you know that the Ujjayi Pranayama has less to do with how you will transition into Warrior 3, and more to do with how to deal with difficult situations outside of the studio. Having trouble staying collected in your high-stress job? Struggling to stay present with loved ones and leaving your work at home? Utilize the power of your breath to draw you back to your authentic and compassionate Self in the most blissful of situations and in the most combative interactions.
Let Living Yoga Become Your Culture.
The beauty of practicing yoga is recognizing the transformation in yourself that occurs both on the mat and off the mat. At the beginning of your morning yoga class, you’ll soon start to send your warm centering thoughts to the guy who cut you off in traffic. Knowing the source of your meals will become a priority, you’ll begin to support companies with strong mission statements, and spend your money in areas that directly benefit the Earth and the world around you. Your relationships will change and evolve and you will begin to surround yourself with only those who build you up and who are also conscious of the world around them.
Recognizing yoga off the mat is an internal, transformative, and never-ending journey. No one is limited to the four corners of their mat and everyone has the opportunity to flourish in their Living Yoga Practice.
Chelsea Rice is the owner, licensed esthetician, board certified holistic health coach, and registered yoga teacher for Hazel & Moss Yogic Health located in Victoria, Minnesota. Offering Sattvic Nutrition programs, Chelsea draws her coaching back to the root: the spiritual relationship with the Self. She is an ongoing supporter and volunteer for Students for a Free Tibet, finds home in the Minnesota northwoods, and has a passion for sustainable living and permaculture.