Yoga is pretty much everywhere these days. You can’t go to the beach, the park, a festival, or the gym without seeing someone doing an asana—or at least wearing yoga pants!
While yoga has become “the thing to do” in Western culture, it’s really more about “the thing to live.” The physical and health benefits of yoga can’t be overstated, but if you’re limiting your yoga practice to a 60-minute session, then you’re missing the point.
Yoga isn’t just a practice; it’s a lifestyle. And when you start to apply its principals beyond the mat, you’ll experience a more fulfilling life. Here are four ways you can start to live a yogic lifestyle.
Follow the Five Yamas
A yogic lifestyle is built around the five principles or ethical guidelines of yoga, called yamas. These values include how you treat yourself and the world around you:
While you may think you already practice these guidelines, but if you dig deeper, you realize we all can improve in these areas. For example, Ahimsa refers to mental and emotional violence and includes reacting to people or circumstances with judgment, criticism, anger, or irritation. Likewise, Satya refers to being honest with others and yourself.
It takes time, but incorporating these principles and yoga styles can help improve your character and relationships.
Add Sustainability to Your Practice
Part of a yogic lifestyle is harmonizing with the world. We feel a deep connection not only to ourselves but nature in every Sun Salutation. Yoga is about being conscious of your actions, and that includes awareness of how your actions impact the environment.
So how can you integrate sustainability into your practice? A simple way is taking a look at the equipment you use.
For example, some yoga props like blocks aren’t eco-friendly. They’re often made of foam, which we know doesn’t jive well with Mother Nature. Instead, use blocks made of bamboo, cotton, or cork, which are all-natural, biodegradable, and nontoxic.
When it comes to your yoga mat, make sure you clean and wash it with natural soap and water instead of toxic cleaning supplies. Also, when it’s time for a new mat, recycle your old one. You’ll be surprised how many ways you can use an old yoga mat!
Take Your Practice Outside
When yoga started, there were no fancy studios, just the great outdoors. There’s something special about practicing yoga in nature. Not only do you feel connected to the earth, but you’re more environmentally friendly.
Though there are some eco-friendly yoga studios, they can be hard to find. But space outside to do your asana is pretty easy to come by. In nature, you have a clean breathing space, and your hands and body touch a natural surface.
Can’t get outside? Add plants to your indoor yoga space to help clean the air and get a soothing visual effect.
Ahimsa (non-violence) extends to all living beings, namely animals, which is why many yogis are vegan. But beyond concern for creatures, a plant-based diet provides your body with clean, whole, and healthy foods that give you more energy.
A vegan diet correlates well with a yogic lifestyle and has many environmental benefits. Even if you’re not ready to commit to a vegan diet, going vegetarian or eating less meat can be beneficial.
Remember, living a yogic lifestyle is about being true to yourself. Adopt the practices that resonate most with you. When you do, you’ll start to take yoga off the mat and into your everyday life.