Yoga Off The Mat

Written by Andy Vantrease

A funny thing happens when you commit to a yoga practice. Yes, the physical benefits are phenomenal and you’ll be sore in places you didn’t know existed prior to your new exercise routine. But, here and now, I’m talking about the kind of yoga that sneaks into your mind ever so quietly and redecorates the whole damn place without ever setting off the alarm.

The shifts are subtle at first and may seem coincidental if each one were to happen in isolation. However, collectively, they’re powerful, and before you know it, you may not even recognize the former furnishings.

As you allow yourself to deepen your practice, you inevitably bring lessons and curiosities off the mat with you. Your decisions are more mindful, and you’re aware of how those decisions affect others. Perhaps you incorporate more whole foods into your diet because your body craves nutrients after a week of challenging classes. Then you’re wondering where those vegetables are grown and who is responsible for planting and sowing them. How do the farmers live and work? Let’s meet them on Sunday at the market. What are their business practices and standards? Do the companies you buy from take care of their employees and care about the environment?

You begin to practice your Pranayama breath work while sitting in traffic, while in a meeting, while studying for final exams. You realize that you hold the key to remaining calm in stressful situations and that a slow, consistent inhale and exhale keeps your fight-or-flight emotions in proper function.

And now that you’re thinking about it, when was the last time you even got road rage or said things you didn’t mean out of anger to someone you love? You no longer sweat the small stuff because compassion has built a sturdy bridge for you to safely cross into the world. Your social anxiety has subsided, and since you’re comfortable in your own skin, you’ve learned to accept others for who they are.

You walk outside and could cry at the beauty of a sunset that a few months ago, you may not have even noticed. Man, this full moon really elevates your energy, and it feels good to be in tune with the cycles of the natural world. Speaking of nature, can we talk about how we’re going to stop the icebergs from melting?

A funny thing happens when you commit to yoga: you begin to care. Like, a lot. About many different things. Your mind can’t help but to expand, with loving-kindness reaching from your heart to all living beings. And although this may seem like as challenging a time as any to have faith in changing the world… we need you. The world needs more yogis, on and off the mat.