Living the Yoga Life: Everyday Hacks Beyond Yamas & Niyamas

It’s quite popular these days to discuss how one can practice yoga off the mat. That’s great - because more people realize that yoga is not just about the physical exercise, but it’s so much more! In fact, yoga is a whole lifestyle, it is a philosophy, and a way of being in- and relating to- the world. So today, I would like to discuss what this means apart from talking about the yogic moral code as outlined in the Yamas and Niyamas.

Most of the people on this planet have some kind of a daily routine. We need to make a living, and we need the routine itself: it helps us organize our unpredictable lives, giving us an illusion of stability, and a kind soothing rhythm to our life. For this reason, I would like to give you some tips how you can live the Yoga Life in relation to your daily routine. Think of these as everyday hacks to incorporate starting today.

Early Morning - Cultivate Present Moment Awareness

You wake up, and a few seconds you are not sure where you are: cherish that moment and go deeper into it. This state of mind, between your sleeping- and your waking- dream is full of mystery. It is very close to a state of deep meditation, where you are aware and vibrantly conscious, but not really thinking, planning, or remembering.

So after you open your eyes, don’t jump out of bed and start doing - just be, if only for a few minutes. Enter into the present moment, give yourself a nice stretch, feel into your physical body that you have landed into after the night’s adventures.

The first few thoughts that you think in the morning can set a tone to the rest of your day. Be very conscious here and cultivate Mindfulness as you perform your morning beauty ritual - try not to plan anything or solve any problems. This can wait!

Late Morning/Afternoon - Enter the Flow

Perhaps you work in an office, in a co-working space, or from home. Most of us have to and do work: we check our emails, follow up on our projects, set new goals and prioritize our time to make sure we get to do the most urgent and important tasks first. Very often we access a state of flow while working - we loose track of time and dedicate our attention entirely to what needs to be done.

This state of flow is what you might have already experienced in your yoga practice: you are very concentrated either on the breath or on some sensation that comes together with the pose, suddenly feeling very aware, brining your body-mind into a true union.

As you are working, try to create more possibilities for flow to happen: get rid of any distractions such as technology or snacks, and don’t multi-task, switching between many things too often. Instead, pick one task at the time and dedicate your entire attention to it. This way you will be much more productive and efficient - trust me!

Late Afternoon/Evening - Play, Connect, Feel Oneness

Once you finish your day’s work, you should rest, meet people you love, and enjoy your time together. This happens naturally for most of us: we have to pick up our kids from day-care/school, our partners or roommates join us at home for dinner. Sometimes you arrange dates, go out, and do something that you love with someone that you care about.

Playing, that is, doing something that absorbs your full attention, fascinates you, makes you learn, and creates bonds with others is extremely important for physical and mental well-being. In fact, this whole existence is just one big cosmic play!

Turning off your worries and not thinking about your problems is actually what leads to their resolution. Not only you don’t re-enforce them and just keep upsetting yourself, entering into useless loops that drain your energy, when you play and simply enjoy your time with others, you boost your creativity which leads to better problem-solving and new paradigm shifts.

Meeting others and sharing your life experiences makes you feel less lonely and can be very inspiring, motivating you to create new, positive changes in your own life.

Finally, connecting to others often leads to a realization that we are all one, or at least to an idea that we are very-very similar. We all have the same pains and challenges, wanting the same things: love, acceptance, respect, and meaning, or a sense of purpose. And meaning is something that you find only through connecting to others.

Anastasia Shevchenko