Last night I presented for 1.5 hour on yoga "off the mat". And today I conducted a prelimary training on intention for an ayurvedic spa in Portland. In both circumstances, I walked away realizing that there is more to learn about yoga than one could likely embody in a lifetime. I also was reminded that there are some very basic ways to integrate yoga into one's life. But first, it's worth asking the question, "why would I do that?"
Why would I want to integrate yoga into my life? Yoga provides the practitioner with a tried and true methodology for weathering the storms of life. Simply stated, disease, disagreeable circumstances, old age, and death. And it offers us systematic techniques that will, if practiced, build "ojas" or one's "life juice", and strengthen "agni", the digestive fire that digests everything from food to emotions and sensory inputs. These two, simple, aspects of our beings, when enhanced and strengthened can eliminate a great deal of the challenges we face. That, and yoga provides us with a framework to connect to our hearts, think from our hearts, accept ourselves as we are and relinquish the need to be anything other than we are at this moment in time. And that's a good thing.
That being said, there are some basic practices that will help you bring the benefits you experience on the mat, off the mat:
* Rise before sunrise: Gulp. I know this can be challenging, but once you train your body to do this, you realize its power. This early morning time is the most peaceful and provides your heart and mind with a quiet environment to realize and shed light on what is needed in your life to balance and enliven you.
* Same time same place: establish a morning ritual with music, tea, incense or candle that is your way of joining with the Divine and stepping into your day together.
* Choose Nature first. When in doubt, eat close to nature, function close to nature, encourage your senses to take in nature and realize you are part of nature and it is part of you.
These three simple tools can profoundly impact your practice, your emotional state, your hormones, your digestion, your relationships, the vibrance of your skin and hair.... you get the picture.
Three is the magic number.