There are 3 tools that I originally learned on the yoga mat but one of the miraculous things about yoga is, what you practice on the mat eventually evolves into your life off the mat.
So whether you are a yogi or have never been to a yoga class, these 3 tools have the ability to transform your quality of life.
1. The Breath (pranayama) Pranayama is the process by which the vital life force is brought under conscious control to gradually reduce afflictions, calm the mind, rejuvenate the body, and initiate the awakening of higher states of consciousness.
The first lesson is to breath deeply. Shallow breathing is a sign of lack of endurance, patience and health. Our first extinct when we are in a challenging situation is to retain the breath. Then that is often followed by a heavy sigh. Breathing is both voluntary and involuntary so when we consciously breathe, we are able to generate more oxygen to the body. If you just focused on a controlled breath (steady inhale and exhale through the nose) for 20 minutes, you would feel as good or better as you would after a physical workout. So remember to always come back to the breath.
2. Intention (mantra) Every single day give yourself time to check in and ask yourself what it is you need? What is your intention? I always say, the practice is repetitious but the lesson itself changes daily. Your day may have the same tasks but what you need and get from it changes every day. Think of a positive word, a feeling you want to attain or a mantra and let it guide your day. When something arises that challenges you or brings doubt and/or fear to the surface, remind yourself of your intention.
3. Focus (drishti) You will go where you are looking or seeking. In yoga, this example is best displayed in balancing poses, where if you look down, you might lose balance and end up there. It is through being attentive that we learn where to focus. Through practice, you will develop focus and attention- attention of your breath, your body’s messages, vital energies and instinct. A steady gaze creates a steady mind.
You are in a yoga class and in a very challenging pose, your mind is wandering, you are fidgeting, looking all around, having bad thoughts about life and your teacher, who is making you hold this pose and all you can think about is getting out of it.
Then you remember your mantra (love) you take a deep inhale, you soften your gaze and attentively focus. You settle into the pose and all of a sudden nothing else matters and you are in the present moment, the only place that matters.
This analogy can be used in any difficult situation in life, on or off the mat.
Here are some of my favorite products to help guide you inward and facilitate in practicing these tools.