Yoga Off the Mat, What It Can Mean

 

What is the notion of "yoga off the mat"?  It can have different meanings, some more superficial than others. For me, it means learning about myself on the mat - and taking those learnings into my life.

Yoga on the mat is an exercise in Svadhyaya, self-study. While being guided through a class and moving through the practice you learn things and take those learnings off the mat.

On the mat, you may find yourself being judgy about yourself or others in the class. This is instructive. It's also important to be aware of how you respond to the instructions and how you are doing in the poses  Are you struggling? Are you trying to be perfect?  Is this how you approach your daily life off the mat too? 

What you do on the mat you also do in your life. 

How you show up on the mat is how you show up for your life. Pay attention to what's going on. But, ultimately, be compassionate with yourself. 

I encourage you to drop into the healing modality that yoga is. To heal, we have to break patterns, expectations and constructs we've created.  Breaking down patterns is hard. There will be resistance. But you have to be aware of the patterns when they come up to be able to move beyond them. 

One of my techniques as a teacher is to provide opportunities to check-in during practice. During these pauses you practice awareness, you see what is happening in the body, in the energy field, in the mind. This is one way that you learn on the mat to be more aware in your daily life.

It can be easy to think you are self-aware but are you?

Practice, with time for reflection, brings awareness to how you "be" in the world. Are you embodying the principles of yoga on the mat and in your life - being passionate and kind for example? 

Yoga off the mat is more than being kind though, it's about being real. It's about honouring your journey and living consciously. Living more consciously will not only lead you to greater happiness, but it will also be helpful for society. 

 

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