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3 ways to explore yoga beyond the mat

We're often being told that Yoga is so much more than asana (postures).

It is in fact a philosophy of interconnected ways to get in touch with yourself. In Patanjali's Limbs of Yoga, the sage discusses 8 intricate ways to follow the path of yoga, and only one of them is postures.

This path is beautifully captured with what Berne Brown calls 'spirituality'.

What is spirituality?

"Spirituality is recognising and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion." Berne Brown

The awakening of the natural world at this time of year always reminds me that this practice is so much more than an exercise we do once a week.

It is a practice of coming home, whatever that means to you.

But how does this translate into action? Here are some simple ways (that you're probably already doing!) to explore yoga beyond postures & classes.

1. Meditation, Pranayama and Mantra

One of the beautiful things about a yoga practice is that it is adaptable to how you feel, and the stages of our lives. Yoga is a multi-faceted practice and stillness is a potent way to explore it.

Meditation, Pranayama & Mantra are beautifully placed to let us come into a place of observation, and a great place to start exploring the practice more deeply.

Mindfully watching and consciously changing the breath is at the heart of all of these connective practices, and I use them all in my own life to centre myself. Below are links to some of my favourite teachers classes and 'challenges' for free! I have done them several times myself.

2. Cheerfulness & Contentment

The practice of 'Santosha' or cheerfulness is the second of the Niyamas of Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga. Sometimes translated as contentment, this practice can be done whenever you like.

Washing the dishes, walking the dog when it's raning, or turning up to a Yoga class to find out there's a cover teacher are all great opportunities to practice Santosha. In fact, you can tune your inner dialogue anywhere, and the small challenging situations of life (like the above) are a perfect training ground.

"You don't need reasons to smile!" Sudhir Rishi

You could start by appreciating yourself, your body, and how you are. Then try smiling at a stranger (proven to improve our wellbeing!), or reflecting on how much you do have in life.

There is proven research to show that the more we focus on the positive, the more we feel its benefits.

3. Embrace mistakes

A simple but powerful mantra for life. Be okay with mistakes!

We are always changing - as is the world around us - and mistakes are something that happen to us all. Being ok with things going wrong is a lifelong practice of embracing our journey and finding our own path.

All in all, Yoga is a powerful practice of coming home, whatever that means to you.

Want to explore a deeper sense of yoga? Take a look at my upcoming events and online courses here.

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