Four Ways to Fit Yoga Into Your Day


#1 Breathe
When we slow down our breath, we help signal to our bodies that all is well. This can decrease our stress response, lower our blood pressure and calm our minds. Take a moment wherever you are to notice your breath. Feel free to close your eyes if it helps you to focus. 

Notice your inhales and exhales and then see if you can make your breath a little slower, a little longer. Choose a word that represents something you would like to get rid of. Something that’s keeping you from living abundantly, maybe anxiety or fear. On your exhales imagine yourself breathing out those things, letting them go. Then choose a word that would represent something you want more of from God, maybe rest or peace or contentment. 

Practice repeating that word on your inhales, imagining yourself breathing in all the good things God has for you. Repeat this as many times as you like, breathing in God’s goodness and breathing out what’s holding you back. When you’re finished, take a moment to notice how you feel, and practice this whenever you feel anxious, stressed or frustrated.

#2 Stretch
Think about how you feel when you first wake up and take a big stretch. Better, right? Stretching energizes us, helps us with balance and flexibility and decreases stress. 

One easy stretch is to clasp your hands together and then turn them away from you so your palms are facing out. Then you can press both hands away from you and feel a good stretch in your arms, or you can add a stretch to your hands and fingers by pressing one palm away from you and then the other, with the hands still clasped. 

Keeping the hands clasped, you can practice that same stretch with the arms partly raised or all the way up overhead and notice how that feels different. Practice a simple stretch anytime you need a break, and you’ll feel reenergized for the task at hand.

#3 Balance
As we get older or experience injury, our ability to sense our position in space is affected. Practicing better balance can prevent falls and injury and can improve mobility.

Anytime you’re standing, especially waiting in a line, practice your balance. Choose a leg and then get a good foundation by spreading your toes and making sure your weight is evenly distributed on your whole foot. Lift your kneecap to engage your thigh muscles and then shift your weight to that leg. Then you can practice just lifting your heel off the ground, lifting the whole foot or even resting your foot on your leg with your knee bent out to the side in a tree pose. 

I had a student that would practice her tree pose in line at the grocery store, so she had the cart to steady her, and another one who would practice balancing at the sink as he did dishes. You might start to notice yourself feeling steadier in other situations too.

#4 Be Mindful
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention. We often live our lives either in the future or the past, and mindfulness helps us to live in the present moment. It can improve your concentration, build up your immune system and even lengthen your life.

Take a moment to begin to notice your breath. If it helps to close your eyes, feel free. After a few breaths, bring your awareness to the floor and the chair where you’re sitting. Feel all the ways you are being supported, the weight of your body distributed through your feet or the structure of the chair beneath you. Come back to your breath, and take a few moments to be still. 

If you notice your mind starting to wander, that’s normal, just gently bring it back to your breath. As thoughts come, let them go right back out, without holding them in your mind. Stay there as long as you like and then slowly return to the awareness of your surroundings. Allow yourself to enter back into your day, hopefully with a little more grace and peace.