Perhaps you have all experienced it: a great yoga class that left you feeling alive, centered and peaceful. What was different about that class? Did you focus on your breathing; bring full mindfulness to the pose at hand? Did you leave all your distractions at the door? The answer is likely “yes.” Now wouldn’t you like to retain those feelings from class every day? With all that yoga teaches us, it is not as hard you might think.
A yoga lifestyle applies the principles of yoga to your daily life by adopting healthy attitudes. If we practice being mindful in our daily activities, we will also become mindful of what we allow into our lives. This means everything from allowing time constraints into our lives to eating unhealthy foods.
Yoga emphasizes non-violence, but that doesn’t just mean non-violence toward others. We must love and respect ourselves enough not to cause ourselves harm by being overworked, overstressed, over-everything. We must love ourselves enough not only to breathe, but be aware of how we are breathing.
If you have ever tried focusing on remembering your dreams at night so you could wake up and write them down, you will notice that over time your dreams begin to change simply because of the mindfulness you bring to them during the day. Breath is the same way; the more mindful you become of breathing, the more it changes, for the better.
Thich Nat Hanh, Buddhist author of many books on breathing and mindfulness, reminds us all of the keeping the “half-smile” present in our lives. He refers to smiling as “mouth yoga,” and he offers this simple mantra to bring peace and awareness into our lives: “Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out I smile.”