Even yoga teachers come across times when it’s hard to fit in a practice. You know those days when every minute seems so full that all you do is fall in bed at the end of the day and pass out? How is it possible to fit yoga in daily when there are so many other demands on our lives?
The trick really is using those moments in the day that we would otherwise waste: the commute, the small breaks in the day and the evenings when winding down. Even the moments between daily tasks can be used to incorporate elements of a daily practice and for being mindful. There are plenty of ways to consciously add yoga into your day that you may not initially think of. Here’s ten of them:
1. The Commuting Meditation
The train or bus ride offers some great opportunities for meditation! Let’s face it, if you can find your zen on the train, you can pretty much do it anywhere. If you’re unfamiliar with meditation, I’d recommend trying it out at home or in a class first, but public transport is a good way to build up resilience to not being distracted! Key rules to meditating in transit:
• If meditating with eyes open, make sure you don’t scare the person opposite you with your steely gaze!
• Being able to show your ticket when asked and holding your meditative state is a good sign.
• Set an alarm to remember to get off at the right stop while you’re ‘ascending the planes’ as per your guru’s instructions.
• Avoid slipping into Lion Pose at any point, unless you want the seat next you to remain vacant!
2. Find Your Sacred Space
Building a sacred space is one of the key things that can help us make time for our yoga and meditation. The ideal space is somewhere you won’t get interrupted, has everything you need (mat, pillows, water, etc.) and isn’t used for anything else. Once you’ve set the space aside, it’s funny how we feel compelled to then use it! Make sure you unplug your electronics during your practice, and don’t check your email every pose or so just because you need your laptop for your relaxing music!
3. Sleep Yoga (Or Yoga Nidrā)
There’s an easier way to do yoga while sleeping than nodding off during Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose! I’m talking about Yoga Nidrā, literally yogic sleep. Yoga Nidrā is a part of Rāja yoga and contains three of Patañjali’s eight limbs of yoga: prānāyāma (breathing), dhāranā (concentration) and pratyāhāra (sensory control). Yoga Nidrā use deep states of relaxation, essentially sending the body to sleep while the mind still has awareness. The really interesting thing about this practice is that the quality of sleep is actually said to be better than an ordinary one. They also encourage you to set an intent for your meditation that manifests in your life, so it’s sleep with benefits!
Mindfulness has been the buzz word for a while now, but is what seems to be a relatively new technique really just that? No, of course not, it’s been around for hundreds of years in both Yoga and Buddhist meditation! Meditation is about bringing attention and focus to the present moment. The ‘be here now’ mentality wasn’t just a sixties thing! Practising mindfulness simple means reminding yourself to pay attention to what’s happening around you right now, and is as simple as tying a string around your finger, putting a sticky note on your desk or setting a few reminders on your phone!
Considering our bodies do this by themselves, it’s funny how easily we forget about it. This is a great tool to hook into the practice of mindfulness we just talked about. A few deep breaths can clear your head from sitting at a desk all day, energise your body in the morning, or find your balance in a stressful situation. A simple exercise is to slow and elongate your breaths for about ten breaths, or you can go for some more complex prānāyāma. Alternate Nostril Breathing, or Nādi Shodhana, is a great technique for cleansing, relaxing and centering the mind!
6. Quick Flow
No time for a full hour-long series before breakfast? Why not do a quick warm up, some cat-cows, a favourite yoga flow, or even just some good old sun salutations? Don’t be surprised if your pets join in. Or is that just mine?
7. Dedicating Your Practice
Its amazing how dedicating the things you do in your day to a higher purpose, someone in your life, or a cause can shift your perspective! Focusing your mind on a worthy aspect of life can put any venture on the right track; be it that work meeting, a meditation or a full yoga practice.
8. Connecting with Nature
With all the technology we’re surrounded by in our days, a short digital detox in the form of a walk through somewhere green is the perfect escape. Even small sojourns to a nearby park will leave you feeling connected, grounded and full of well-being. If you get the chance, take your mat outside and practice under the bright blue (in the UK, see cloudy) sky. Staying in touch with the seasons and developing a practice which recognises them in some way, perhaps through the solstices and equinoxes, can be both fun and enlightening!
An aspect of yoga that can often be overlooked is the ability to connect with others. It could be through simple acts of kindness, community projects or just listening to that friend for hundredth time regarding that particularly world shattering breakup. Loving-kindness meditations, involving realisation of people’s inter-connectivity, are some of the deepest (and strangest) to view on brain scanners!
10. Centering and Cleansing but quickly!
Even meditation can be time consuming, right? Well no, actually. That mental monkey can be beaten back with even a few minutes worth of ‘letting go’ and focusing on the breath. Think of it as a brisk mental shower! If you have a few minutes of me-time how about those kriyas, or a little energetic prānāyāma? Not one to do on the train so much but might I suggest a few rounds of Om? See if you can make time for any quick ritual that makes you feel good, and notice the changes that follow!
As you can see there’s really no excuse to not have yoga in your life in some way or another. Perhaps it’s not a question of fitting it in but living it! Try taking five minutes for you today using any of these techniques and see how they work for you! Did I miss any really good ways of squeezing in yoga to your day? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!