You know that feeling where you just finished doing yoga? Think back to it. This likely changes depending on the day and the type of yoga you do, but I usually feel refreshed and lighter after my practice. Words that typically come up from my students are “relaxed”, “happy”, “content” (and frankly, “exhausted” 😉 ). But I think it’s safe to say that most of the time, we have positive emotions following our yoga practice.
You spend time doing yoga, investing in yourself, and feeling good. Then life hits. The stress, the hustle, and the [bad kind of] exhaustion. How do we take how we feel on our yoga mat and carry it over into the rest of our day? It’s tough, but I think it’s worth it. Lets dive into it…
Keep the mindfulness going.
When we’re on the mat we’re hyper aware of the position of our body, our breath, and our surroundings. We focus on how we feel with and following each movement. The importance of this mindfulness is that we can adjust our movements accordingly with how we’re feeling.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been thought about multiple tasks on your to-do list vs one task at a time? My hand is raised right there with ya. But think about this for a minute…what if you actually only focused on one task at a time? What a crazy thought! If I’m constantly thinking about the tasks on my to-do list I start to feel anxious, stressed, and frankly have a more challenging time focusing on the task at hand. When I take things step by step and am actually present in the moment, things tend to go a lot more smoothly. If I’m focusing on one task at a time, I can also problem solve more easily if challenges arise.
The breath is such an important aspect in yoga. Real talk: we usually focus on the poses. BUT our poses feel night and day different when we make the shift from “doing poses” to moving through poses with our breath.
When I start to feel stressed, I notice my breath becomes more shallow. I start breathing into my chest instead of my abdomen. Sometimes if I’m really stressed I’ll notice myself holding my breath. In my opinion, your breath has a very intimate relationship with your emotions. However, once I realize I’m holding my breathe and actually start breathing again…I start to feel better! How often do people tell you to stop and “take a few deep breaths” when you’re stressed? There’s a reason for that and it’s because it helps.
Check out this post to explore various breathing techniques. Bonus points if you try to incorporate them into your day!
Be kind to yourself.
You took the time to invest in yourself with your yoga practice. In a world where it is easy to prioritize the hustle and say “I don’t have time for that”, you did it. You made the time. You prioritized yourself. Congratulations!
But when we take the time to exercise, yoga or otherwise, why do many of us neglect ourselves the rest of the day? We let the stress get to us. We don’t make the healthiest eating choices. We put down our bodies and compared ourselves to other people. We spend too much time thinking about work. And allllllllll the negative self talk. Why do we do this to ourselves? I challenge you to take some time to be kind to yourself throughout the day. Some examples:
- Set an affirmation to use throughout your day
- Take a bath
- Meal prep on Sunday so you quick, healthy meals throughout the week
- Do some breathing exercises
- Take a break from social media
- Call a friend
- Watch a funny video on YouTube (my personal go-to is anything made by Charlie Berens)
- Do a 10 minute yoga flow. Anyone can squeeze in 10 minutes.
Be aware of your surroundings.
When we’re on our mat we’re aware of if our mat is rolling up, or if our blocks are crooked. We’re aware of the temperature of the room. We’re aware of the presence of the person next to us if we’re taking a class.
Raise your hand if you get tunnel vision when focusing on a particular task during the day. Or if you completely zone out when looking at your phone and/or watching Netflix. If you’re frequently so focused on a task that you practically jump out of your chair if someone walks into the same as you and says “hi”. It’s not healthy, but we’re all guilty of this.
I believe the most important step in overcoming this and being aware of your surroundings is first recognizing that the problem exists. Taking frequent breaks and setting timers is a good way to get out of this “zone” and more in-touch with what is going on around you.
Try to spend time in an area that makes you feel more relaxed. If you have control over your workspace, add items that you enjoy and bring you joy. If you do not have control over your workspace, try to take breaks in places that relax you during the day .
Check in with how you’re feeling.
If you’re in downward dog and your hands start to slide forward, chances are you adjust your hands. If you’re in a pose that starts to hurt, chances are you change your positioning (side note- please change your positioning if something hurts!). When you’re laying in Corpse Pose (or Savasana), chances are you check in with yourself on how you’re feeling.
How often has it happened that someone asks “how are you doing?” and you automatically reply “fine” or “good” without even thinking about it? All the time, right? This is a very common occurrence. Now don’t get me wrong, part of this is cultural and not wanting to “dump” our emotions on other people. However, I think far more often it’s just routine that we have this response without actually even thinking about how we’re actually feeling at that time. Even if you decide not to tell others exactly how you’re feeling, this is a good opportunity to at least check in with yourself.
It’s not uncommon for us to go-go-go all day long and the first time we realize how exhausted and stressed we are is when we get in bed at night. Personally, when I became more aware of how I was feeling throughout the day, it became easier to take steps to make myself feel “better” as the day progressed. Obviously some days are easier than others, but even a small step towards checking in with yourself is better than nothing.
And if none of these tips work, you can always strike Warrior 1 behind closed doors to remind yourself of how good yoga feels 😉