HC at UPR Recommends: The Top 5 Ways to Practice Yoga Beyond the Mat

Practicing yoga as part of your daily routine can be, put simply, quite magical. After all, yoga is an opportunity to reconnect with your mind and spirit, as well as a chance to develop strength, flexibility, good posture and effective breathing techniques that will surely add some peace of mind to your life (as well as a low-impact full body workout, if you’re like me and love those sweaty power vinyasa sessions!).    The purpose of yoga, however, transcends the physical practice. In reality, it’s all about achieving concentration, stability, self discipline and ahimsa: a sanskrit word that literally means “non-violence” towards yourself and those around you. Because there are many ways to achieve these goals other than by flowing on your mat, I decided to list my favorite ways to apply yoga to my everyday life. Enjoy!

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  1. 1. Do Some Journaling!

    Journal is one of my favorite techniques. It’s so personal and fulfilling. Try it your way. You can keep a dream or gratitude journal, a notebook to write your daily experiences, or by keeping tabs on yourself. It’s a great way to check-in with your mental, physical, and spiritual needs. By allowing your creative streak to flourish, you’re radically improving your working memory, enhancing your self-awareness, and reducing any anxieties over any past or future events that might be stressful for you. The best part of this method is that there are no rules, which means that you can create whatever cathartic writing experience you desire. So, grab a pen and paper, put on your favorite lo-fi playlist, and let your inner writer lead the way! 

    For cute, practical and aesthetically pleasing journals, go to 

  2. 2. Practice Mindfulness

    While being mindful may sound to some as an excuse to ruminate on every single detail instead of enjoying your time, I’m here to tell you that this notion can’t be further from the truth. In essence, Mindfulness is all about focusing your attention and staying grounded in the present, without any judgment or negative thoughts that may interfere with your inner peace.

    The main idea is that, by relishing in every sensation felt by your senses (including your emotions, of course), you will gradually become a more peaceful, self-aware, and open-minded individual. Mindfulness is so easy that you can practice it in literally any activity you do, such as when you’re taking a shower, grabbing a bite, stroking a paintbrush, or taking a gentle walk around the neighborhood. Just take a deep breath and notice how these sensations make you feel, accepting them as they are.

  3. 3. Spend 30 Minutes of More of Your Time Doing Something You Truly Enjoy

    As a full-time college student, I get how complicated time management can be in terms of coordinating social events, daily workouts, meal prepping, and chores. I also understand how critical it is to find some time to just sit back, relax, and enjoy any one of my favorite hobbies for at least 30 minutes each day. Depending on your personal “busy-scale,” this can be too much or too little (yes, I’m talking about you, workaholics!). Feel free to adjust your me-time according to your routine and schedule. The goal is to forget—if only for a short while—any triggering sources of stress. You could be stressed because you have to work on an impending assignment, getting those weekend errands done, or experiencing a tough breakup from an ex-partner (if such is the case, kudos to you! Keep in mind that this experience, although hard, shall come to pass). By doing what you most enjoy, you’re essentially releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a significant part in improving your heart rate, blood vessel function, sleep, movement, and learning development, just to name a few. Keep this in mind next time you’re considering skipping your daily dose of vitamin ME.

  4. 4. Start Doing Aromatherapy

    You don’t need to be a yoga master to use essential oils in your daily routine! Although many yogis do incorporate them into the final relaxation (or savasana) stage of their practice, anyone can reap the wonderful benefits this alternative medicine. For those of you that are unfamiliar with aromatherapy, I’m talking about the use of plant-extracted oils for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Specifically, aromatherapy is a great choice for anybody that struggles with stress, depression, or anxiety, meaning they are suitable for basically everyone. Other aromatherapy benefits include the increase of blood circulation and energy levels without having to ingest drugs or caffeine, strengthening of the immune system, pain relief, and digestion improvement. It all depends on the type of oil and form (is it a body mist, a roll-on, or an incense stick?).

    If you wish to combine the different oils’ properties, you can simply create your essential oil solutions and blends (a quick Youtube DIY search will do the trick!). The possibilities are endless! If you wish to start an aromatherapy practice, I highly recommend you invest in a good diffuser and a starter kit, such as the ones sold on Bluzen, Plant Therapy, or doTERRA.  All it takes is a few drops! Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?

  5. 5. Adopt a Plant-Based Lifestyle

    Because yoga fosters connectedness with the higher self, our environment, and all forms of life that surround us, we must keep in mind the well-being of other animals, as well. Let’s revisit the afore-mentioned concept of ahimsa, which implies the practice of non-violence towards all sentient beings. Refuse consumption of animal products and stop all support to the exploitative industries that profit off the suffering of animals. In doing so, you’re living the philosophy at its maximum expression. Of course, consult your doctor before any sudden lifestyle changes. A plat-based diet isn’t for everyone.

    As a vegan and yoga enthusiast, I’m happy to say that I’ve never felt more at peace with the universe as I do now, when I’m aware of the cruelty animals face on a day-to-day basis for our momentary satisfaction, and choose not to partake in it. In the grand scheme of things, adopting a plant-based lifestyle is one of the most ethical, eco-conscious, and healthy decisions you could make! Of course, I don’t pretend we’re all made vegans in the blink of an eye, but slow progress is better than no progress at all. Start by making small adjustments to your daily habits until you reach a point where the ultimate goal doesn’t seem so far away. For more tips on transitioning into a plant-based diet and lifestyle, go to SELF, The Thriving Vegan, or The Vegan Society.

Now that you know how to practice yoga without any mat, fancy postures, or tricky breathing exercises, it’s finally time for you to try these techniques out! Give them a try and let us know which one’s your favorite!