I know I don't do as much yoga as I should," lamented a student to me the other day. As a yoga instructor, I hear that refrain time and time again. No matter how many minutes or hours of asana (yoga poses) one does, often the internal refrain is that one hasn't done enough. Almost on a daily basis, I listen to people talk about how overworked, stressed out, and just plain old busy they are. If folks get to one yoga class a week, they're elated. However, there are ways that we can sneak yoga poses into our day without even having a mat under our feet. (I believe that the universe is our mat, anyway, but that's a topic for another article.) So, what's a yogi to do? How do we incorporate yoga as we go to work, fix meals, enjoy relationships, and maintain a sense of equanimity in our lives? Can we do it all? Yes!
First of all, it's important to look realistically at what we believe is necessary for our well-being. Certainly, having a roof over our head, food in our belly, and warm clothing on our body is important. But, we can get so caught up in attending to those basic needs that we ignore our need for companionship (with ourselves as well as others) and for physical activity. Even ten minutes a day of physical yoga can make a big difference in our overall well-being. (This is not to discount the benefits of attending a structured, lengthier yoga class.) May I say here that "yoga" is a broad term that includes such traits as loving-kindness, truthfulness, generosity, and contentment, as well as breath awareness, concentration, and meditation. For the rest of this article, I will speak more specifically about the physical postures that bring strength, flexibility and focus. Underlying these poses, however, is the desire to be in a healthy body that allows us to turn our attention to being kind and aware, rather than being stiff and sore and wishing it weren't so.
Let's take a look at how you can bring yoga into your daily life. First and simply, breathe. And, pay attention to your breath. Second, stand up straight. The simple posture Mountain Pose (Tadasana) (photo 1) benefits your internal organs by giving them space in which to work freely, and it can be done almost anywhere. Next time you're standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for the elevator, stand evenly on your feet and balance your weight over the front edges of your heels. This will align your pelvis, and when you move your buttocks downward and...