“But I can’t even touch my toes!”
Well guess what…
You don’t need to touch your toes to do yoga. In fact, you don’t even need to enter a yoga studio to “do” yoga.
The word “Yoga” is defined so many different ways, from “yoking”, “connection”, and “control” to “pure awareness” and “union with the supreme.”
But what does that mean?
Well first and foremost, it means that the physical postures – alone – are not yoga. The movements we make and the shapes we take in yoga class are called asanas. So when someone in your life eventually but inevitably decides you absolutely NEED to do yoga, you will most likely find yourself walking through gauzy curtains into a candlelit space where a yoga teacher will guide you through a series of asanas, linked by the breath, wrapped up with an intention, and finished off with a delightful dip into that I-promise-I’m-not-sleeping period called “savasana”.
And yes, you will be able to say you did some yoga, because asana is one of the eight limbs of yoga. But it’s absolutely not the whole (vegan) enchilada.
So where does this leave us?
Nowhere and anywhere, really. Yoga is an opportunity and a challenge to move towards a state of calm; an internal space where the fluctuations of the mind no longer control us. We gain control because our thoughts are no longer the boss of every living and breathing moment.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
Plus it means that it is entirely possible to practice Yoga without ever unrolling a yoga mat.
And it also means that you could down dog yourself to death without ever actually doing yoga.
Some of the greatest yogis we’ve ever met spend the majority of their time practicing in completely non-traditional yoga spaces – and we’re pretty sure that they don’t even know they’re doing it. Or perhaps they do, but they just haven’t assigned the word yoga to their mindful choice to live nonviolent, honest, authentic, gentle, kind, and compassionate lives, with self-discipline and a willingness to continuously engage in the sometimes difficult process of inner exploration.
We’ve found these inspirational humans in gardens, kitchens, libraries, hospitals, schools, parks, street corners, and shelters.
And now maybe you are wondering, what can I do to practice all day long, whether I’m barefoot and lulu-clad or sneakered and mat-free?
Here are 20 of our favorite ways to make a yogic impact on your world.
- Set an intention as soon as you wake up in the morning.
- Take deep breaths, with awareness.
- Fuel your body with whole foods.
- Keep your space organized.
- Detox from your electronics for at least a few minutes every hour.
- Make time to exercise each day.
- Hold the door open for a stranger.
- Make eye contact.
- Say thank you.
- Give someone a hug when they need it.
- Spend an extra ten minutes in the shower.
- Offer to run an errand for someone you know if stressed.
- Text a joke to a friend who is going through a tough time.
- Donate your time and talents to an organization that speaks to your heart.
- Change the course of a conversation from gossip to gratitude.
- Listen with intention. Give someone your full attention.
- Forgive someone, without conditions.
- Pick up trash on the street, on the beach, or in the park.
- Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
- Bring a reusable mug to your favorite coffee shop.
Bridget Riepl is a mom, a yoga teacher, a former lawyer, a writer, a moderately decent cook, a really good baker, a seeker of fantastic coffee and a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. Bridget became all those things around the same time and credits the whole “former lawyer” thing as the impetus for most of the fun stuff she gets to do on a daily basis now. That, and her husband Joe’s complete willingness to support her spontaneity with a smile. Bridget was born and raised in New Jersey and cannot imagine calling anywhere else “home.” She loves the entire NJ yoga community with lioness-like ferocity and cannot wait to show the world just what NJ yogis are up to – because it is crazy amazing stuff.
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