9 Yoga Lifestyle Habits for Radical Self-Care
Article At A Glance
All of us could benefit from increasing our self-care habits. Included are some yoga lifestyle habits that can easily be added to your daily routine to inspire and enliven your daily life.
It’s traditional to resolve to make changes with the change of seasons. But it’s never too late to make a shift and incorporate a little more off-the-mat yoga into your daily life. Yoga lifestyle habits help me feel more grounded, content, focused, and, well, just happier. They help me accept the things I cannot change and give me the energy and courage to change the things I can. They also make me feel like the queen of self-care—and who couldn’t use a little more of that?
Here are a few of my favorite yoga lifestyle habits that you may wish to consider incorporating into your routine this Spring.
9 Yoga Lifestyle Habits to Restore Your Energy
Wake Up Positive
I love those first moments of consciousness in the morning. (Well, I should qualify that. I love them after a good night’s sleep). It feels like being reborn—everything is fresh and new. I like to use those first few moments to guide my early morning brain toward something positive, inspiring, and uplifting, like a mantra, a prayer, a song, a kīrtan chant, intention, or perhaps a poem.
My suggestion is to choose something that’s personally meaningful. Repeat it for 1 to 5 minutes. You may wish to sit up in bed to do this. Waking up and guiding your mind toward something positive is an incredible way to set the tone for your entire day.
Cool water in the morning shifts energy quickly. My grandma would often say, “You’ve gotta wash that sleep off of your face honey!” Many years ago when I was staying in ashrams in India, I learned the value of cold water bathing each morning. To be honest, I have something of a love-hate relationship with it. What I’ve learned over the years is that there are many ways to have a relationship with cold water. Sometimes I just use grandma’s method and splash cool water on my face. Sometimes I stand in a cold shower until I feel the cold blasting through my brain. Most days it’s something in between. If you have any health concerns, please discuss with a licensed clinician before taking on any serious cold water practice.
The first time I saw a tongue scraper and learned what it was I thought I’d lose my lunch. I was totally disgusted. But once I overcame my initial heebie-jeebies, I embraced the scrape. How did I ever survive without it? Tongue scraping pairs well with teeth brushing, so it’s easy to incorporate into your routine, and why not get into the habit of regularly ridding yourself of the ama – internal garbage?
I love to spend some time each morning getting a little sun. It’s meant to be great for setting your circadian rhythms, helping you sleep better, and making vitamin D. But morning sunlight means more to me than that. It feels like a blessing or a divine gift. I learned in India to sit facing east and meditate in the rising sun, and it’s a practice that I still love to do when it’s not too cold and/or rainy (and I’m up early enough). Accept the gift! Even when it’s not sunny, a few moments outside in the morning are precious.
Asanas for Yoga Lifestyle Habits
For me, morning asanas are a yogic lifestyle habit imperative. They are my allies, both physically and mentally. To be clear, I do not have a 90-minute asana practice. I set my bar super low: one pose a day. And since I always repeat poses, it may take me anywhere from two to five minutes to complete it. One pose is my baseline, but it easily morphs into a 15- or 20-minute practice, when I have time. I make sure my phone is out of the room. If my mind is particularly antsy, I’ll keep my notebook close by so I can write down some to-dos to remember later, and I remind myself that this is my special self-care time, and nothing, not even my own monkey mind, is allowed to interfere. This is my time to indulge in the wonderful, radiant sensations of mindful movement.
Yamas and Niyamas for Decision Making
Life isn’t simple. We have to make decisions every day. The yamas and niyamas are a powerful framework for making them. They take us beyond ahimsa’s “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone … ” and give us nine other litmus tests through which to evaluate our choices. The thing about decisions is that there is always a lot of wiggling. It can be so easy to overthink things. Having another person or two who you know are committed to ethics to help you bounce choices off can be really helpful.
Mindful Moments for Reducing Social Media Scrolling
I work a lot, and I need to take regular breaks. It can be so easy to fall into social media scrolling. I am as guilty as anyone! So, I try to take a mindful moment before I default to the attention-sucking, mind-numbing internet.
A commitment to mindfulness helps me to remember to take a break. Get up. Stop looking at the screen. Resist the urge to pick up my phone. Look out in the distance and breathe. Notice the feelings in my body. Discern if I’m hungry, thirsty, tired, frustrated, lonely, etc., and try to take care of those needs first.
It doesn’t mean I never allow myself to watch cat videos, scroll through Facebook, or indulge in celebrity gossip. It just means I try to do it because I’m choosing to, not out of lizard brain habit.
Help: An important Yoga Lifestyle Habit
If there is one thing that instantly obliterates my self-obsessed ruminations, it’s realizing how much other people suffer and could use some help—food, a smile, kindness. I try to make it a daily habit to remember that other people need support and to do something for someone else when the opportunity presents itself—and make an effort to expect nothing in return. I include animals in this piece of advice, BTW. The thing about stepping up to help is that it provides a direct experience of how interconnected everything is and how much we all need each other. It’s a way to practice yoga, to practice unity.
The last point is blank because you may have yogic lifestyle habits of your own that you’ve developed or that you would like to develop. Make sure to choose practices that inspire and enliven you. This could include mindful walking in nature, drinking a quiet cup of tea with no distractions, reading a novel or inspirational book, playing with your kids or companion animals, gardening—anything that feeds you. Living your life with mindful care is one of the most satisfying yoga lifestyle habits you can practice.