When you are busy working all the time, it can be hard to find time for your yoga practice. It is important to remember is that yoga isn’t only a physical activity. Mindfulness, breathwork, and how we treat ourselves are all vital parts of a yoga practice. Here are several ways that I have been able to incorporate yoga into my workday.
The idea of mantras or repetitive phrases is not a new concept. Self-help programs thrive on daily repetition to establish routines and re-focus the mind. Think about how many times you type a password a day. If you work in an office the answer can be over 100 times. The words in a password stick in your head long after you finish typing them.
Now think about the words in your password. As password length has increased over time, we are required to create more complex passwords. If you are the type of person who generates their passwords through a program and uses a secure application to store them, consider instead if you made one of your passwords a mantra. It can be a phrase that inspired you or helped you focus on your current motivation.
A while ago, all of my passwords were destructive… “IH@t3W0rk” and such (btw… this is not an actual pw I used). I found myself feeling more negative every time I typed it. I started to relate to the negative words I was typing. Then, my password expired and I needed to create a new one. I decided to try an experiment and choose one that reminded me of things that made me smile. I found my feelings and mood improved each time I used the new password.
“Now what about security?” you ask. In a recent business conference I attended, it was statistically proven that passwords consisting of three words totaling 15 – 30 characters could be considered more secure than a program generated one. Technology experts have been telling the public for years that those are more secure than a more personal password. Three. Little. Words. It can help you re-focus each time you typed them. (I double dare you not to say your password in your head as you are typing it.) Three little words to help you bring yoga and a mantra into your day. Think about what that password might be. Depending on the program, you may still be required to include a number and a special character, but the words and feel of the password are the important part.
For those who are not religious or spiritual, the word altar may carry a negative connotation. If it is a word that bothers you, call it whatever you like. Tchotchkes is often a word that describes most of mine. Altars are simply little spaces that you create for yourself, designed to remind you of important things. They may contain pictures, toys, stones, or symbols. If you are new to the process, here are some basic dos and don’ts to create beautiful spaces for yourself.
Do – find things that bring you joy. These spaces are a special selection of items that hold meaning for you. There is no room in this space for any sort of bad energy.
Don’t – put too many items in one place. Try for about 2-4 items per space. If you have a lot of items, consider making two spaces to avoid clutter.
Do – pay attention to placement. You want a light arrangement that allows your eyes to move over the objects. Try a couple different placements and see what speaks to you.
Don’t – put family photos in this space. As much as the people we love inspire us, they can also cause strong feelings. Relationships can be complex and those feelings can make these sacred spaces infused with conflicting emotions.
Try a couple of different spaces and see if it brings more peace to your workday.
Stuck in traffic? Waiting for a meeting to start? Take a moment and pay attention to your breath. You can even close your eyes if it feels good. If you are keeping your eyes open, try to keep a relaxed gaze.
Try the following exercise next time you find a moment or two without activity:
- Find an easy seated position with your feet flat on the ground and shoulders relaxed
- Breathe a long, slow breath in through the nose (eyes open or closed) – feel the breath coming in.
- Breathe a long, slow breath out through the nose or the mouth – feel the breath coming out
- Try to remain present – notice sensations, sights, smells, and noises
- Notice your heartbeat
- Relax the tongue from the top of the mouth and relax the jaw
- Continue breathing slow deep breaths until you feel a bit more relaxed or until your meeting starts. This could take several minutes or just a breath or two (depending on the situation).
Lunch breaks can be an awesome way to bring yoga into your day. I’m not suggesting you run to the gym each lunch hour, but this time can be a golden opportunity if you use it efficiently. Things that you can do on lunch include: taking in a moment of nature, taking a nap, or finding a space for mindful breathing. Chances are, in a typical 30 minute lunch break, you can find 5 minutes to practice a little breathing or mindfulness. Check out apps like Headspace or Calm if you need some guidance.
If you are looking for a natural space to de-stress during lunch, a nearby park may be the answer. You may be surprised at what you find with a simple google search. In my city, I am constantly finding little-known parks that I can retreat to during my lunch hour. If you have the time during your day, find a new space to take you away from….
To do list or daily habits list
A to-do list or a tracking spreadsheet may seem counter-intuitive to yoga, but it can be a good way to track your mindfulness throughout the day. If you bullet journal, this can be a way to express your creativity and remind yourself of your daily mindfulness goals. A to-do list can set a daily intention to find space for yourself, while a tracking spreadsheet can track your mindfulness habits over time. My to do list contains reminders to drink enough water, write something every day, and find 5 minutes for a mediation practice.
Start small and find 3-5 habits that you want to work on. Try bringing those activities into your everyday routine. See how you feel after a week or two. Add 1-2 more habits once you have established some good routines. Be mindful of the habits on your list and whether they are bringing you ease or stress. If a habit only causes you stress, drop it from your list. The purpose is to keep you on track for your overall health goals and not drive you crazy. Re-work your list until you find an achievable list of habits which benefit your mindfulness goals.