We’ve heard this repeated many times, but what does it actually mean? Do I do yoga at home? Do I think about yoga poses as I’m driving?
Taking your yoga off the mat put simply means to take the lessons you’ve learned in your practice and apply them to your life. If your teacher inspires you to tune into your breath, next time you are driving and get upset that someone cut you off it’s a great opportunity to tune in, take some deep breaths. Instead of that brief moment turning into an hour of fuming it gets cut short by taking in more oxygen and sending signals to your brain to calm down.
Another wonderful way of taking your practice off the mat is with extending kindness to others. We are told to be kind to ourselves on our mats, to smile instead of frown when we fall out of a pose or be gentle instead of push yourself too hard. Outside of the studio you can apply this in so many situations. Smile at a stranger, extend a kind word to the person in line with you at the grocery store, or maybe volunteer your time to pick up trash in a local park or give some love to the homeless animals at the local SPCA. The ripple effect of being kind to yourself and others is long lasting.
Our yoga practice doesn’t just have to be something we do on a 72x56 piece of rubber, if we listen to the lessons and apply them to our everyday lives, this is how we live our yoga.