Taking Your Yoga Practice Off The Mat

 
During each yoga class I normally present a theme or invite students to set an intention. I then thread that theme throughout the class or remind the student to come back to the intention they set earlier. Sometimes I suggest the class take the theme with them for the rest of the day or week to ponder. This can inspire them for the rest of the day or week and let their practice linger a little longer than their time spent on the mat. This is a powerful tool for making positive and healthy changes in their lives, opening them up to the possibility of transformation.
 
After practicing yoga for a while most students start to notice little steps towards this transformation as little snippets of information are digested, processed and revealed in their lives. For me it started in busy Sydney traffic when I noticing at traffic lights I was unconsciously slowing down and deepening my breath to create calm. 
 
I noticed that after a weekly yoga class I had to adjust my rear view mirror because I was all of a sudden taller because of improved posture. After three yoga classes a week my posture was greatly improved and eventually there was no need to adjust the mirror as good posture became my constant. 
 
Standing in a long queue meant time to practice patience and being okay with discomfort, something I was learning and practicing in each difficult asana. I also learnt to be more present in each moment which allowed me the choice to act in trying situation instead of re-acting because I was on auto-pilot. 
 
This more regular state of presence also helped me to become aware of the times my mind wandered (which is natural), where it wandered to, and how to bring it back with more regularity. The first time I noticed this I was parked out-side of my sons’ school waiting to pick them up and it was a revelation! It was something my teacher, Duncan Peak had mentioned in class that had sunk in and was a light globe moment.
 
These are all examples of taking our yoga practice off the mat and into the world. It may be that like me you notice pranayama (breath-work) creeping into your day-to-day life. Or you become more mindful and notice the little things that normally you wouldn’t notice because you are on auto-pilot like: walking (without your earphones), stacking the dishwasher, hanging out the washing and/or making the kids lunches. 
 
Another example might be discovering a more global awareness as you learn that yoga means to yoke, to unite, and is the connective-ness of everything. All of sudden we aren’t so conscious of just ourselves and our immediate family and friends but of our community, country, planet and we may care more about animals, plants and the environment. 
 
Transformation also comes in the way of making healthier choices in life. We feel great from our practice, we are present more often, have more clarity and that then flows onto how we choose to spend our time, the type of people we want to hang around and how we want to continue to feel in each moment.  You may notice you choose or attract less drama, more peace and joyful times. 
 
This is not to say that all drama and poor choices drop off completely, we are human after all. There will still be times you will feel lonely, angry, sad, confused, irritated, frustrated and/or depressed and that is okay, don’t beat yourself up, let go of harsh judgement and instead practice self-compassion. Desires and addictions will probably still remain, but you may see a glimmer of hope that inspires you to then take further action to be the best possible version of yourself.
 
Remember to also be true to yourself, I practice and live what resonates with me on the yogic path. Some people may have an opinion on that but remember, what people say about you is a reflection of them not you. Stay true to your core values and let the judgement of others shake off you as much as possible. 
 
Quotes and passages verbalised in class might seed the desire to delve deeper into yoga philosophy. Blissful time spent in Corpse Pose (Svasana) may spur you on to take a class in meditation or mindfulness. You may be inspired to venture off on a yoga retreat for your next holiday or to a Wanderlust Weekend. 
 
I suggest that if you notice any of your yoga practices slowly filtrating into your daily life, just observe it all with natural curiosity, stay open to any little shifts or steps to transformation. Let go of any expectations of what should happen or the speed that it may happen and instead accept what occurs on and off your mat. This has been one of my biggest lessons… accept don’t expect and I find it applies to almost everything in my life. 
 

Article by Martine Ford - written for the eNewsletter 13/3/17
 

Profile photo of Martine Ford of Spirit Yoga, Port Macquarie, Australia

Martine is a qualified yoga instructor and owner of Spirit Yoga in Port Macquarie, Australia. She moved back home to start anew and spread the joys and benefits of yoga to the coastal town of Port Macquarie. She doesn't pretend to have everything worked out perfectly, and openly shares any mishaps and insights she may have along the way. 

A former professional dancer, she has an extensive background in ballet, contemporary, character, jazz and yoga studies. Martine trained in Power Yoga to Advanced level with Duncan Peak in the Baron Baptiste style of Power Yoga. She also has certification in Yin Yoga (Jo Phee), Kids Yoga, Pre and Post Natal Yoga and has a Diploma in Dance. 

Her series of e-Books, Yoga for the Seasons & The Spirit Yoga Health Series are available on Amazon.

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