During this time of great change, yoga offers us some practical tools for healthy living, doable ways to integrate our yogic wisdom into everyday life. We can wake up joyfully, retire to restorative sleep nightly and live beneficially on a daily basis.
Our consciousness defines our reality. Like yoga, the old adage “You get what you focus on, so focus on what you want.” teaches us that through conscious thought creation, we can learn to wake up and remember who we really are. By paying attention to the little things, being aware moment to moment, we free ourselves from limiting judgments and beliefs that hold us back and prevent us from living our dream life.
In modern life, it is not uncommon to take on more than what is possible to achieve. Rather than wait for a personal earthquake, trauma or illness to make us realise that there is a more sustainable existence to be lived; finding a path to integrated, healthy and dynamic living not only makes enormous sense, it has become crucial for our health and continued spiritual evolution – our survival, even.
Here are 10 basic yet fundamental yogic tips on helping you achieve abundance in your daily lives:
- Ask yourself, “How do I start my day?” What is your waking up routine? Start your day with gratitude and intent. Before opening eyes or moving the physical body, take a deep breath in and breathe out connecting with the mind; take a moment to allow yourself to connect with spirit. Rather than move into immediate worry mode, planning events of the day, thinking of the to do list that requires attention – find aspects for which to be grateful. Listen to the birds chirping outside, the peacefulness of your home space, a relaxed, rested body in a warm, comfortable bed, smile to yourself to set the tone for the rest of the day.
- Find affirmations that enable you to become & stay peaceful and serene, amid the noise and chaos of present living. Finding a mantra or if not possible, words and phrases that align your personal talents within the cultural and universal context, and which can be repeated morning and evening (and throughout the day). This will keep you centred, grounded and constantly aware of your spirit and the high goals you possess.
- Awaken the body every day. Gentle elongation of the spine & limbs help us feel healthy and ready to be active. A gentle morning yoga routine invites and awakens vital energy in the body. If we do not circulate the life force, or prana, within the body daily, this energy becomes stagnant, dormant and trapped. Should you not have time to commit to an early active Hatha yoga class, simple exercises such as head rolls and spinal rockings at the beginning of each day will go a long way to increase your energy levels.
- Look forward to the duties of the day rather than viewing them as a chore -they need to be done anyway, so you may as well enjoy them. Approach even the most menial task with loving kindness.
- Plan your specific activities together with some free time, breathing space, an activity you enjoy, something uplifting and fun, tea with a friend, a creative hobby; an upbeat, active vinyasa yoga class for the morning, therapeutic distress/relaxing yoga for the evening.
- Practice suppleness of the mind. The same flexibility of body that Hatha yoga provides can be applied with mindful living. Living with awareness will allow you to see what you are able to improve or change and what is essential to release. What we resist, persists; adapt and adjust. So notice how you hold yourself throughout the day, and what we hold onto. Let go of what is not serving you. Spiritual progress is like detoxification – things have to come up in order to be released. This will bring healing to forgotten places.
- Making choices about what to spend your time doing and asking questions such as “Who is benefitting?” and “Are my activities serving valuable and meaningful outcomes”, will allow you to make beneficial lifestyle choices that are not only healthier for you, but for the world at large. Remember the glamorous choices are not always the healthy ones.
- ” Every situation, properly perceived, becomes an opportunity to grow” Viewing every situation as an opportunity for growth will allow positivity to flow into your life. In yoga we learn to move beyond our “likes and dislikes” and view every opportunity as one to be approached with love, wisdom and insight.
- Be happy for yourself and others. The Dalai Lama says: Imagine how much more happiness you have if you share in everyone else’s happiness besides your own! Once we find our inner stillness & joy we are not buffeted around by the events of the environment. When we yoyo from one emotional extreme to the next, depending on interpersonal relationships and outer experiences, we place the perspective of others higher than our own. We are the only ones responsible for our own happiness, and, knowing this, means that others are not able to affect our sense of happiness, no matter what the situation. When you remember your true nature & purpose; cooperation replaces competition and you are able to be happy for others and contribute to a more peaceful community. Believe in the best of people, circumstances and solutions.
- Use a similar wind-down process at the end of the day. Be realistic not overly optimistic: remember the “middle path” and realise that some activities need not be repeated. Letting go of fears, internal drama and high stress levels that deplete our personal energy at the end of the day through relaxation and meditation is essential for restorative sleep that brings with it the beginnings of a new day. Nightly yoga will help integrate the events of the day – postures such as head or shoulder stands work wonders; meditation or calming activities, such as reading, calm the mind before bedtime.
- Understanding that a healthy life is also a practical life, Yoga teaches us to simplify, to hold the essence of what is meaningful and valuable. It helps us keep “reality” at the core of our existence, allowing us the physical measure for enlightened living. When we understand that there is no separation between the body and the mind, between self and others, we awaken our whole being to perfect balance. This is yoga, the wonderful union and harmony of all things. The best part is that yoga is happening now and has immediate benefits.
Conclusion: Its all been said before, sometimes we need to be reminded about real value in every day life.
Love and light always. Marina Contardo (Odyssey magazine Volume 35, Issue 2, 2011)