The Tiny Truths I Learned from Yoga that Everyone Can Practice (Without Ever Setting Foot on a Mat)

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Yoga is an ancient practice that teaches us about our bodies and minds, but you don’t have to be an enlightened yogi to practice a few simple truths to make life so much more peaceful. It’s not about holding a headstand or meditating for hours— these easy, yoga-centric tenets are super accessible whether you’re fit-minded or a mindful newbie. Add these practices to your day to gain some of that yogic Zen without stepping foot inside a yoga studio.

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Set Intentions

At the beginning of most yoga classes, the instructor will ask students to dedicate their practice to someone or something important to them. Setting this intention at the start of a class can keep you motivated when things get tough, and give you something to reflect back on when you roll up your mat and take account of all your hard work. But you can also use this yogic sentiment on your own: Practice starting your day with a goal in mind—whether it’s to be more content, exhibit greater patience, or just to be less cranky when your significant other doesn’t do the dishes. Giving purpose to your day is more than motivating, it can be life-changing.

Listen to Your Body

Yoga is about exploring the edges of your body and mind, but this takes a lot of listening. Just as you wouldn’t push your body past its limits on the mat, you shouldn’t take on too much (physically or mentally) off the mat. From the workplace or a workout to relationships, being in tune with how your body feels is essential to living a happier and healthier life.

Slow Down

Not all yoga classes consist of an hour-long Savasana—in fact, many yoga classes include heart-pumping, fast-paced sequences sure to make you sweat. But what’s different about the type of cardio in a yoga class is that it’s super intentional—and students are made to take time to reflect and recenter when necessary. Take this lesson into your everyday by noticing those moments when you feel flustered and overwhelmed. When the emails keep coming, the to-do list grows and it seems like there’s no time for a break—that’s when it’s most essential to sit down, close your eyes, and take a few calming breaths.

Enjoy the Process

While it definitely feels great to finally nail an arm balance in your yoga class, the basic principles of yoga teach us that the process is exponentially more important than perfection. Recognizing that there is much to learn along the way makes the journey feel worthwhile. Next time you find yourself in the “I’ll be happy when…” cycle, remember that the now is pretty damn great as well.

Lose the Ego

In a yoga class, sometimes there’s a little voice that tells us we should be doing the pose better—that we could be more flexible, less wobbly, extra graceful—that’s the ego talking. Instead, yoga teaches us to take a step back from what we think we should be, and instead accept ourselves exactly where we are. Practice this truth when you feel like comparing yourself to others, or even to your own past performances.