Taking yoga off your mat – reflections on a yoga year

Taking yoga off your mat La Crisalida yoga retreat Spain

As we come to the end of another year, we find it is a perfect time to pause and reflect. Maybe you might like to consider what you might have learnt this year, in your yoga practice, and how this translates into your everyday life.

This year in our yoga articles we have focused on some of the basics – the core elements – of yoga. In this article we look back over what we have discussed, and consider how to use what we have learnt in yoga. Click on the titles to read the whole article.

Approach yoga (and life) with a beginners mind

A beginners mind is open to possibility, as everything is new. See things as they are – rather than what we want things to be or what we “expect”. This helps us to stay present, be in the moment, so that we feel each asana on the mat. As we practice with our beginners mind on the mat, we learn how we can approach life with this same openness and curiosity. Remember, next time you roll out your mat for your yoga practise, be curious, playful even, and experience yoga, and life, in the moment. /

Take time to breathe

In our article on dirga pranayama – three part breathing – we explained how you can join breath and movement in your yoga practice. There are a number of different types of pranayama (control of the breath) that we can use in our yoga practice. Three part breathing reminds us to breath deeply into the tummy and lungs. It helps to slow our breathing down and brings us present into our body. Present in the moment. Have you been practicing?

Find pockets of time for your yoga practice

The majority of people who visit La Crisalida Retreats have very busy lives, full of jobs, families, commitments. Sometimes finding time to go to a 90 minute or even 60 minute yoga class is difficult. In July we wrote about how you can take your yoga practice outdoors, and make time in your lunch break for a few asanas. Although the weather might not favour the seated asanas (too cold or wet), next time you see a blue sky, pop outside for some standing asanas – maybe warrior 2, triangle and tree pose. Breath deeply and feel rejuvenated.

Finding peace and calm

Stress and tension is a part of most peoples lives and, for many of us, something that we just accept as part of our life. However, yoga enables us to identify where we hold tension in the body and gives us some practical tools to release it. Yoga encourages us to become aware of confusion and frustration, and then to consciously let go, leading us to find peace and calm, in body mind and spirit.

How to develop inner strength

Three markers of inner strength are confidence, happiness and calmness. As we practice on our yoga mat, we build physical core and inner strength. Regular yoga practice can also help to bring calmness as we spend time in silence, with ourselves for company. Finding yourself in some yoga asanas can help to develop a confidence – we try something new and over time, and with practice we learn how to do it.

Release and balance emotions

Life has a habit of throwing things our way – some of these things are very challenging or upsetting, such as the loss of a loved one, changing job or moving home. In this article we describe some yoga asanas that can help to release and balance emotions. So, next time you feel angry, or upset, roll out your mat and try these asanas.

Self acceptance – using mind chatter to support you (headstand)

Have you ever gone to a yoga class and said to yourself “I can´t do that?”, or heard someone else in the class say that? The thoughts that we think influence our speech and actions. Maybe headstand is one of those yoga asanas that you think is not for you. In yoga, as we practice, we can become aware of our thought (and speech) patterns when faced with an asana that is more challenging. This awareness can bring change, as you might consciously choose to think differently: “maybe with practice, at some point in the future it is possible that I could do a headstand”. The world opens up.

Fears and phobias – cobra!

During the practice of yoga we put our bodies into all sorts of unusual positions – standing on our head or shoulders, balancing on one foot (or hands), or into deep back bends, like cobra. In the supportive environment of a yoga class, and with a practiced teacher, we learn that we can move our bodies in ways that we never thought possible. Some people, who might have experienced injuries or accidents, are sometimes fearful of trying some positions. In yoga we learn to be kind to our bodies and to try new things, safely, gently moving through our fears.

Why practice yoga? Health benefits of yoga

Yoga has many health benefits, particularly if practiced regularly and forms part of an overall healthy lifestyle. In our November article we gave you 22 reasons for taking up yoga (okay, 22 health benefits!).

Yoga is a personal journey. As we practice on the mat, so we practice in our life. So, as we come to the end of this year, take a moment to consider where you were this time last year and congratulate yourself on where you are now. Maybe now is the time to commit to starting a regular practice, or to increase the number of classes you attend each week, or simply decide to spend 15 minutes everyday on your yoga mat. Maybe you would like to attend a yoga retreat, to deepen your practice? Read more about yoga at La Crisalida Retreats, Spain, here.

As we approach the new year, commit to yourself to take the yoga off your mat and bring in into your everyday life.


About the author

Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).