Live like a yogi and rise over your challenges with these everyday behaviors. No! It does not involve postures or meditation.
If you are thinking about making yoga a part of your life and wondering how to live like a yogi, you are at the right place.
Most regard yoga as daily sessions to pull off a flat stomach or toss out flaccid arms. Yet others think of yoga as a way to relax with meditation and experience positivity, acumen and peace of mind. Well, yoga does help us to experience those benefits. Yet, the true benefits of yoga are way more powerful and varied. To reap those, you need to adopt the yogi way of life – when you dwell in the yogic state of mind through your day to day activities, and not just when you are in an asana or in meditation.
What does it look like, you may ask – being in a yogic state of mind through the day? Is it a system? A technique? Or a new method of practicing yoga?
Turns out that practicing yoga as a way of life is simpler (not the same as ‘easy’) than it might sound at first. It really boils down to conducting yourself more consciously – moment by moment – navigating your day and situations with an involved detachment. It is all about cultivating the true yoga mindset and adopting behaviors that make you stay in the moment.
Applying this ‘yoga mindset’ to your daily life will make you more focused, productive and more efficient at balancing the demands on your time. Being in yoga (the yogic state of mind) in your daily life will transform your relationships for the better. It will help you claim your inner peace and overall well-being.
Here is a list of behaviours in which you will find yourself indulging more and more, as you make progress towards being in yoga all the time. Each one of them is very simple. None of them is easy, though. They will take persistent effort to develop into your habits. But every single one of them is worth more than the effort and will transform your experience of life significantly for the better.
1. Being present in the moment
Being in yoga is all about being fully present in the moment. It means that you stay in the moment and neither be distracted by nor be lost in the noise of your internal dialogue. Your goal should be to experience each and every moment as fully as you can. There are many other health benefits of yoga for mind and the body.
When you are with others, the greatest service you can provide to them is to make yourselves fully available. It doesn’t mean accepting everything that is thrown at you. Rather you should receive it fully – as it is, without judgement – before accepting or rejecting it. When you are authentic with others, you also invite them to be authentic with you.
When you are alone, be aware and choose where your attention goes. It is ok to analyse the past to learn or plan for the future – but it should be a deliberate choice you make. Daydreaming about the future or being lost in the thoughts of the past is not cool in the yoga land!
2. Being decisive
Do not try to control every outcome. It is akin to going to war with the universe. Acknowledge that it isn’t possible for you to control everything. Sure, work hard and make a genuine effort to understand the reality, without prejudice. Thereafter, take a decision that is aligned with your value system and leave it at that.
There is immense power and freedom in surrendering the outcome, once you have taken a decision in the above fashion. Face the consequences – good or bad – learn without prejudice, and repeat.
3. Taking action
It’s hard to progress on the path of yoga if you aren’t willing to take the necessary action. This applies to every aspect of your life. Planning a new project, leading a new initiative or working on critical feedback, doing a side project to pay for an investment or make up for an emergency spend – are all examples of action. Act, based on what your life circumstances demand and you must perform them in that spirit. If you find yourself not fond of some actions, then you must act to avoid circumstances which make you do such actions in the first place. But act, you must.
‘Karma yoga’ is the path of being in yoga through detached action – one that is detached from the fruits of your labour. Mind you, being detached does not mean that there is no end goal or purpose in sight – it just means that you are not just thinking about the end goal all the time. Being in yoga through action is being involved in the process as much as you can and surrendering the consequences to the course of things. Surely plan for your desired outcome, but do not tie your efforts and involvement.
4. Remaining aware of your body
Most practices in yoga – both postures and meditative practices – demand you to pay keen attention to your body sensations and breath, throughout the practice. You are encouraged to remain aware, not stretch beyond your limit and to notice what hurts and what makes you feel good.
Begin to do the same, just at other times as well. Pay attention to sensations in your body when people or situations make you uncomfortable – a tight neck, pursed up lips, sweaty palms or fidgety fingers. Pay attention to what loosens you up, as well. Your body always sends such signals before you respond to any situation. Therefore, you will notice your handle on situations getting better, merely through the awareness of these sensations.
5. Eating Mindfully
Food is of central importance when it comes to health. As per many ancient traditions and cultures, how you receive the food is as important as what you choose to eat.
Keep the distractions away when eating. Your body is better prepared to receive and digest what you are about to eat, when you are more aware of it. The smell, the anticipation and the sight of food, all prepare your body to get ready to assimilate whatever is about to enter into the system.
Eating mindfully will also lift your spirits. A large part of our autonomous behaviour, thought and emotion are governed by the lizard brain, which hasn’t really evolved that much since our hunter gatherer days. Back then, our ancestors used to grow hungry for long periods of time. Finding and receiving nourishing food was a delightful event for our survival instincts. If you bring awareness and gratitude for food every time you have it, you are actually stoking your subconscious mind with good news. It triggers the deep seated feelings of fulfillment and joy.
Eating mindfully can also help you lose weight. It is a great opportunity to capture the moment. Being conscious enables you to eat to satiate the needs of your body, enjoy your food and yet to avoid eating in excess, driven by cravings.
6. Being kind
Generosity is one of the pillars of the yogi way of life.
You might usually think of kindness as something that you do for others. But it is a two-way street. Be kind to yourself by being kind to others.
Kindness does not mean acting nice always and agreeing with anything that anyone says. Sometimes the kindest act you can do is to set boundaries for others and empower them to take control of their lives.
Kindness is also a twin of acceptance – when you accept others the way they are and let them be so. The act of being kind is accepting others and refraining from inflicting pain on anyone, when they fail to meet your expectations.
7. Being a witness to your emotions
Your mind is a negative multiplier. It’s just how evolution has shaped it. Try telling it ‘don’t think of a monkey’ and there are monkeys all over. That’s why ‘don’t be afraid’ is not an effective way to manage the emotion of fear. Just as ‘don’t feel bad’ never works to make yourself or anyone else feel better.
The key to managing your emotions is to learn to become a witness to all emotions – good or bad – and realize that they are temporary. Do not chase pleasant emotions or avoid unpleasant ones. Rather let the emotions be and become aware that you are NOT your emotions. They just rise and fall within you, over and over again. Watch them come and go, without judging why they are there and whether they are good or bad.
For instance, if you feel angry, notice that anger has risen and all the little signs of its onset. It is important that you do not blame, criticize or condemn yourself or someone else for that unwanted feeling. Just witness the emotions arising within you. The act of witnessing is extremely powerful. It separates you from your anger. By turning into a witness, you refrain from participating in your anger and get the power to respond differently, rather than simply acting out of anger.
Easier said than done? Definitely! But gladly, there are meditative techniques in yoga which help you practice being a witness. Like any other habit, this one will take some effort and practice to develop.
But boy, can yoga change your life? A-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y !! The act of becoming and remaining a witness to your emotions, itself brings the “head, heart and hands” into harmony with each other and gives you power over them.
8. Letting go
Only by letting go, you achieve a yogi way of life.
This is definitely one of the most reliable methods of being in yoga. The task is to let go of all the emotional baggage that you may be lugging around.
It is easier than it might feel at first. Start with realizing that the past is just a memory. It isn’t real. Life happens in the here and the now. You do not need to hold on to fears, anger, jealousy, hatred or even false identities. And you also need to learn to forgive and forget. It is the act of being kind to yourself.
9. Reframing & disempowering negative thoughts
Patanjali’s yoga sutras recommend a simple, yet challenging and effective mental practice to deal with negative thoughts. It is known as pratipaksha bhavana.
The task is straightforward. When your attention is captured by negative thoughts, actively refrain from jumping on that train of thought. Instead, try to replace the unpleasant thought with a thought of opposing nature. The new, happy thought need not be a great plan of action for your problems. It can simply be any joyful thought – of an enjoyable vacation you had, of someone you like and are inspired by, of someone you love or even of something that you enjoy doing, say a walk in the rain or a trek in the hills. Think of anything that adds joy to the unpleasant cocktail of thoughts starting to get stirred up inside you. Keep doing it until the waves of negative thoughts start to get weaker.
It might sound wishful at first. But with practice, the technique has the potential to turn the tide of emotions in a favorable direction and then abate it altogether. It is an advanced practice because it presumes that you are aware of your thoughts and are able to recognize negative thoughts arising in your mind. At the subconscious level, what is going on is that you are training your mind to switch tracks early when a negative thought enters your head and threatens to turn into a full blown spiral of negativity.
10. Pause and take breaks.
Being in a rush-rush mode at all times isn’t okay. Instead pause in between, take a few deep breaths and relax.
It slows down your heart rate and puts your consciousness back in control. It leads to better focus, decision making ability, memory and positive thinking. A few minutes sitting idly in complete stillness can serve the purpose.
You may try ‘mauna’ – which means being mute. It might sound weird but it helps magnificently. It helps your attention turn inward and saves energy that is normally frittered away in aimless conversation. As little as a half hour of deliberate silence observed daily, can do wonders to your state of mind.
Did not feel like you have been reading about yoga?
The different ways of conduct listed above don’t really fit into the common picture people paint in their heads when they think about yoga. Therefore it is important to understand that yoga is not just sitting, meditating, rolling or stretching around on the mat. It is a way of life that can help you discover who you really are and even transcend your limiting ways and behaviours.
If you adopt ‘being-in-yoga’ as an approach to your daily conduct and behaviour, you will find yourself developing a clear mind and cultivating more fulfilling days. It will need a persistent effort on your behalf, though. Good news is that there are many ways of adapting yoga in daily life, as listed above. Start with any one or two of them at a time and it will prepare you to adopt other behaviors more easily as well. Explore what suits you the best and proceed accordingly.
How do you live a yogi lifestyle?
Stay present at the moment. Do not fight your thoughts, analyze them and try to shift your way of thinking to a more positive perspective. Think in terms of solutions and not problems or blame games. Remain calm in all situations, this way you give power to your inner self to become the master of your emotions.
Eat a sattvic food to help induce more sattva guna in yourself. Be thankful for the little things that happened to you today, and reflect on your actions every hour to check if you did the right things. Over time you will develop all these habits as an instinct.
Do yogis live longer?
Living like a yogi means you take care of your physical and mental health, you do not dwell in the past or anticipate too much about the things you can not control. This helps in stress reduction and results in increased life expectancy.
What is a yogi personality?
A true yogi is one who is in constant connection with the absolute truth. He does not control things, he is the master of his emotions and rarely gets irritated or angry. He does not get affected by the outward things, but this does not mean that he is cold, he is just indifferent and detached from the world and remains in a heightened state of joy without substance abuse. If you are happy and enjoy every aspect of life as an observer, you are something of a yogi yourself.