Beginner students often think the poses and breathing is all there is to master in yoga class. Experienced yogis know that what we practice on our yoga mats is just the tip of the iceberg. As students begin to discover the many different and profound aspects of yoga, they soon discover that yoga is a way of life. It can be astonishing to see how applying yogic principles off the mat affects our asana practice. There are many simple and easy ways to incorporate a yoga lifestyle into your daily routine that can deepen your yoga practice and add benefits to your everyday life.
Goals of a yogic lifestyle
A yogic lifestyle encourages a conscious shift in our approach to life and our outlook on the world around us. The intention of yogic lifestyle choices is to move towards a place of spiritual connection, unity, equanimity, and inner truth. Ultimately, we aim to infuse every moment with mindfulness and have every action stem from yogic principles.
Benefits of the yogic lifestyle
A yogic lifestyle is highly beneficial for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. It expands your spiritual energy, brings balance, creates positivity, improves health, and increases your overall happiness. When we study and incorporate the philosophies of yoga, our chakras become more aligned, our self-awareness expands, and aging slows down. These life principles also promote a strong body, a compassionate heart, kindness towards others, and gratitude for all we have. In short, it helps us be better, healthier, and nicer humans.
A yogic lifestyle involves shifting our attitudes, habits, diets, thoughts and general ways of life to be more congruent with the philosophies and ethics of yoga. Yogis make lifestyle choices that bring them towards a place of sattva, a state of equanimity and inner peace.
Committing to a yoga lifestyle
Leading a yoga lifestyle does not need to be an all or nothing affair. You can make a few small conscious changes that can easily be incorporated into your day-to-day life. Start your yoga lifestyle off by making the easiest or most motivating changes for you. Several small changes will eventually add up and make a huge difference to body, mind, and spirit. Over time these choices will become natural and instinctive, and it will be easier to live the yoga way of life. Wherever you are on this path, be mindful of your goals and the steps you’re taking to achieve them.
Tips for creating a successful yoga lifestyle
- Make healthy food choices
A yoga-friendly lifestyle means taking care of your body by making healthy food choices. The easiest way to do this is to increase your intake of vegetables and eating more fresh fruit. You may want to consider a vegan diet or another plant-based diet. Even going vegetarian a day or two a week can drastically improve your health. Breakfast is often the best place to start making changes in your diet.
- Hydrate properly
This is very basic, but are you getting enough water? Drinking 8 glasses of water a day may seem like a lot, but it’s the best way to keep your skin and body healthy. Drinking water also helps wake up in the morning and keeps you going throughout the day. If you take Bikram or hot yoga classes, proper hydration is especially important.
- Establish a regular yoga practice
A dedicated and frequent practice of yoga is essential to support and fuel all of the various ways to infuse yoga into your daily routine. While breathing exercises and the physical postures create a calm mind and a clear heart, other yoga paths are equally powerful and supportive. Raja and Jnana yoga are deeply meditative, reflective, and contemplative. Bhakti and Tantra yoga invoke devotion and are more ritual based. Karma yoga encourages selfless service and humility. Whatever paths you choose, find a way to establish and maintain a regular practice throughout the week.
- Stay active
Your daily asana practice can lead to all kinds of health benefits, including better sleep, better circulation, heart rate, blood pressure, and better range of movement, muscle, and balance. Yet hatha yoga usually does not provide enough cardio and strength training for optimal health. Try adding other types of fitness and physical exercise—just 20 minutes three times a week is all you need. Staying active is also a fantastic way to de-stress and lift your mood and energy levels.
- Practice meditation
If you’re new to yoga, you might find meditation tricky at first. Try five or ten minutes of meditation before your morning yoga session to put you in the right mindset. Or try after your yoga to wind down, and get you ready to face the day with a clear head. A daily meditation session is ideal to ensure a steady level of peace and tranquility throughout your day.
- Use natural health and beauty products
Slowly shift away from highly commercialized products towards purchasing more organic, cruelty-free items. Try using aromatherapy oils as a fragrance and using simple natural ingredients in beauty products. Using natural and organic produces will minimize your body’s use of energy to process out toxins.
- Minimize waste and consciously consume
Examine how your purchases, including your yoga pants and yoga mat, affect the planet’s health. Reduce your consumption whenever possible, and recycle as much as feasible. Try to buy your clothes and yoga props from conscious manufacturers who use eco-friendly materials and processes.
- Reduce stress and find relaxation
Stress will ruin your best attempts to create a calm and conscious yogic lifestyle. Give yourself ample opportunities for complete relaxation, and make sure to incorporate stress-reducing yoga exercises like yoga nidra and Shavasana pose.
- Create a positive and mindful social life
Social media and office politics can be draining and energetically disrupting. It’s surprising how much negativity you can let slide in your social life without even noticing. Since yoga is all about being more mindful and conscious of your daily life, it is important to create a more engaging, supportive, healthy, and positive social circle. Let go of toxic relationships. Cultivate positive interactions by making eye contact, complimenting others, and practicing kindness. Look for other ways and opportunities to be a positive influence on those around you.
- Be true to yourself
Personal honesty and accountability is key to living a more mindful life. Continuously check-in with yourself to make sure your actions are congruent with your values. Make personal vows to study and incorporate the Yamas and Niyamas. Make an effort to be generous, kind, compassionate, and honest with yourself. Always aim to be true to who you are and content with what you have.
- Develop positive mental habits
To develop mindful habits, you’ll need to work on your mind. Avoid negative self-talk to keep yourself positive. Take time to be with yourself. Try a daily gratitude exercise or journal reflection before going to bed or waking up. This can help you de-stress and learn to see more positive thinking better overall mental health.
- Declutter and clean
Mindfulness is about the mind, body, and spirit, but it’s also about taking care of your space. It can be tough to cultivate a daily practice of meditation or yoga in your home if your house is dirty and too full of stuff. A minimalist approach to your home decor can help you focus and be present on what’s important. Instead of buying things you don’t need, think more about what’s essential for your lifestyle. Make sure to declutter regularly, and remember to donate unused items rather than throwing them out!
- Create a yogic home environment
The surroundings in your home affect your mind and spirit. Begin to notice how the colors, textures, and placement of furniture relates to your inner being. Choose to decorate mindfully and simply, incorporating calming colors, and pleasing lines. Keep things around that promote a healthy and relaxed environment, including green plants, scented infusers, crystals, candles, and a few great art pieces you really love.
Daily mindfulness and living a more yoga-friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated. Ideally, it should be as simple as possible. Making a few easy changes to your lifestyle can keep you feeling focused, peaceful, healthy, and encourage your progression along the path of yoga.
Living a yogic life is not just about doing your morning poses and mastering mindfulness with meditation. A well-balanced and mindful lifestyle requires a whole life approach. But how do you keep the sense of mental and spiritual well-being you get with yoga all day, every day? What do you do to keep your life balanced? Make a list of what changes best support you, and share them with us in the comments below!