You don’t need a yoga mat to do yoga. Heck, you don’t even need spandex to start this life altering practice. All you need is your body, an open mind and a few spare moments of your day.
Cancel your well intended shopping trip to certain high priced yoga clothing stores, and instead schedule these five simple things into your daily routine.
1. Stretch While You’re Still in Bed
You’ve just woken up. Instead of reaching for your phone or running to make coffee, take a second to stretch. Reach the arms up and overhead. Bring one knee in at a time, moving each leg from side to side. Bring both knees in and give the legs a squeeze. Sit up in bed, reach the right arm into the air as you lean to the left. Follow that by reaching the left arm into the air and leaning to the right. Finish it all with three slow, deep breaths before your feet hit the floor and voila! You’ve done some yoga!
(Photo by Kinga Cichewicz)
2. Breathe While in Transit
Breath work is yoga, and it is so gosh darn doable throughout the day. Especially when stuck in traffic. We tend not to notice the body tensing up when commuting. When sitting in a car, bus, or subway suddenly our shoulders are up to our ears and our entire body is vibrating with palpable tension. While you’re traveling to your next destination, notice the start of agitation.
Counter this by taking three deep belly breaths. With each exhale, consciously invite the shoulders and muscles to relax. It may not cure the traffic jam you’re stuck in or get that jerk who cut you off impounded, but it will put you in a better place. Also, you can tell yourself – “I’m a GD saint! Instead of swearing at that (insert profanity) – I did some yoga!”
3. End a Walk with Lunges
It doesn’t have to be after a long walk. It can be a short walk from the car to the front door. I recommend doing this when you first walk in your home. This way it’s a bit less socially awkward when you start busting out a deep lunge, holding for three to five breaths and then switching sides. I mean, you could totally do this, but you might unnerve the person standing next to you at the crosswalk with your sudden dramatic movements and heavy breathing. Instead, let the passing through your doorway be like a Pavlovian response “must lunge now!”
Save this for your own home, though. It could be misconstrued if you do this upon entering a friend’s house — unless they’re a friend who might join you in your yogic adventures. If they do join, let your friend know they too can apply for sainthood! Also, your hips and hamstrings will thank you.
(Photo by Emma Simpson)
4. Be Kind To Others
Believe it or not, this is a yogic thing. The epitome of the practice of yoga isn’t a nice looking ass – it’s how not to be an ass. Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word meaning “do no harm.” This concept applies to self and others. Try smiling at a stranger, holding open a door for the person behind you, or pay for the coffee of the folks after you in line. Something so small can turn the tide of a person’s entire day, week, or year. You never know the great good a small act of kindness may bring. Look at you go! Doing yoga like a Jedi master.
5. Be Kind To Yourself
This is the other side of Ahimsa’s “do no harm”. Not hurting yourself. This can take on many forms of action, or inaction. Actively doing things that make you feel better. Abstaining from things that make you feel crappy. Watching your internal dialogue and doing your best to make it a kinder, more loving conversation.
So no worries if you don’t own a pair of lulus. Fret not if your toes are currently untouchable. What matters most is taking care of yourself and others in tiny, attainable actions. This is yoga. Rest assured knowing you were already doing yoga every time you took a deep breath and smiled.
Namaste and keep it real everyone.