When you think of yoga, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
I’m guessing it might be a group of people in a yoga studio with mirrors, yoga mats on the floor, being led through the positions by an instructor, while soothing music plays in the background. Or maybe it’s a park or beach setting, or doing yoga somewhere in nature? Maybe a solo yoga practitioner?
Regardless of any of those, chances are that you probably think of yoga as a guided task, one that requires putting aside a set amount of time to really focus and reap the full benefits.
While that might be the most effective way to practice yoga, what if I told you that you can also infuse some of the movements into your daily life?
Now, obviously, you’re not going to just bust out and do eagle or tree poses. But here are a few “yoga musts” that can be worked into any schedule with minimal effort.
This is an extremely important aspect of yoga and probably the easiest to incorporate into your daily movements. There are several ways to do this.
Feel like you have a never-ending “to-do” list and that you’re constantly running trying to keep up but actually getting nothing done? Stopping for even a few minutes to take some deep breaths can center you and bring your focus back to the task at hand.
Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold it for a couple of seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat.
Add a mantra
To sharpen your focus, add a mantra to your inhale and exhale. Pick something that works for you. For example, as you inhale, think “I can” and as you exhale, think “do this.”
Or, as you breathe in, focus on “Let.” As you breathe out, focus on “go.” This one is great for getting rid of doubts or second-guessing as you try to complete a task.
Close your eyes.
Want those mantras and deep breaths to mean even more? Close your eyes as you do them. Shutting out the world around you and looking inward is a great way to clear out the clutter and focus on giving your full attention to your breathing.
Just don’t close your eyes if you’re practicing deep breaths while driving 😉
Start and end the day.
Are you someone who usually jumps out of bed as soon as you hear your alarm, or even before it? While it’s great to have that kind of energy, taking a few minutes to center yourself before you start your day, and as you end it, can improve your focus.
In the morning, lie on your back and breathe from the diaphragm. Clear your mind (don’t start thinking about everything you have to do that day just yet!) and allow the breathing to calm you. At night, repeat the process.
After a few deep, cleansing breaths, add pelvic tilts to the diaphragm breathing. Press your lower back into the mattress and then contract your abs as you exhale, releasing them slowly as you inhale. This can be especially effective at night, as this movement can ease tension and stress in the lower back.
I know I said you probably wouldn’t be using any and I stand by that. But if you find yourself in certain situations, there are a few that you can try that won’t be overly obvious.
Be a Superhero.
This is a variation of the Mountain Pose. Place your feet wider than your hips and stand tall. Put your hands on your hips. Concentrate on keeping your shoulders down as you lift your chest and raise your head. Hold for 1-2 minutes.
Think of Superman’s pose, and you’ll have the right idea.
This is effective for lowering stress hormones and boosting confidence in stressful situations.
Another one to relieve stress and just stretch out, this one can be done sitting your standing and is most effective if you can place your hands on a surface in front of you, like a desk or countertop.
As you breathe in, arch your back so that it bows like a cow’s. Then, as you exhale, round your spine like a cat. The more extreme the movement, the more stretched out you’ll feel, but even smaller, less-noticeable movement can also be beneficial.
These are just a few ways to incorporate yoga into your daily movements. Centering yourself through breathing techniques, taking the time to stop for a few minutes at the beginning and end of your day, and practicing a few subtle poses in the right circumstances can go a long way to helping you get through that hefty to-do list.
Give them a try and see if your focus improves!
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