How To Get More Out Of Your Yoga Practice By Doing These 6 Things Off The Mat

by Georgina Berbari

If you've taken up a regular yoga practice, you might have noticed how incredible you feel within your mind, body, and soul right after going to your favorite class. The energy you create during your time on the mat is so contagious, and the entire room is filled with good vibes and positive effervescence. Truth be told, though, it's easy to forget about the lessons yoga teaches you the moment you roll up your mat. However, to get more out of your yoga practice, it's important to take the teachings of this ancient practice and translate them into actions within your day-to-day life.

Honestly, you can say "namaste" and bow to your neighbors solemnly during your favorite instructor's feel-good vinyasa flow as much as you want, but if you're not being a good person off the mat, your yoga practice is solely physical. Yoga translates to "union" — union of the mind, body, and spirit. So, while it can be seen as simply a relaxing workout to some, getting the true benefits of your yoga practice requires practicing things like compassion, generosity, and non-attachment in all areas of your life.

The next time you feel those lingering good vibrations after a therapeutic yoga flow, try spreading them with everyone you come in contact with and embedding those sentiments deep within your being for days and days after you've left the studio. Here are six ways you can take what you learned on your yoga mat, and use it to make the most out of your practice, especially when you're not actually in a downward dog.

Practice Compassion Toward Yourself And Others

Going to yoga and caring for your body and mind is a lovely act of compassion and self-care. But it's all too easy to resume negative self-talk and skip out on acts of self-care the minute you walk out of that studio door.

Similar to how you might set an intention during your time on the mat, set an intention outside the studio to be compassionate in all areas of your life, and to practice this both to yourself and when communicating with others. Whether it be treating yourself to a good book and a bubble bath, or letting a friend pour their heart out to you and giving them a shoulder to lean on, compassion is a key lesson that yoga aims to teach you.

Take Up A Daily Meditation Practice

Meditating while you're lying in savasana at the end of yoga class is great and all, but taking up a daily meditation practice outside of your physical flows will really help you expand as a person and give you the tools to more effectively deal with stress and anxiety when it comes up.

Set a few minutes aside each morning or evening to find stillness, observe your thoughts, and simply breathe. After finding your rhythm with the practice you'll realize that taking time to be mindful literally changes your brain and how you view the world.

Be Grateful For The Little Things

Maybe you once set an intention during one of your yoga classes to be grateful for all of the beautiful things in your life, but by the very next day, those constant mental complaints about minor inconveniences started creeping in once again.

Whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to others, or pitying yourself for the things that go wrong in life, make a list of things that you're grateful for, no matter how simple they may seem. It's important to practice gratitude for the things that you have, rather than dwell on the things that are missing, even if it's something as basic as being able to roll out your mat and practice your favorite poses.

Be More Generous, And Give Back To Your Community

Though it's not openly said in most classes, a huge part of yoga is being of service to others around you and your community as a whole. This is referred to as karma yoga, according to Yoga Journal, and it means performing deliberate acts of kindness out of the pure goodness of your heart, and expecting nothing in return.

Going to yoga is an amazing service to yourself, but once you leave the studio, try volunteering for a soup kitchen, picking up trash around your neighborhood, or signing up for any kind community service once a week.

Breathe Through The Uncomfortable Stuff

Guys, your yoga teacher doesn't constantly nag you to inhale deeply and exhale slowly throughout the duration of class because she enjoys listening to your Darth Vader-like breathing. It's because she's helping you learn how to breathe through stressful, hard, and incredibly uncomfortable moments that'll pop up throughout life when you leave the studio.

When you find yourself overworrying or agonizing over things you can't control, stop and breathe, just like you learned to do in that difficult yoga asana. Your fave instructor would be proud, my friend.

Let Go Of Things That No Longer Serve You

Letting go of toxic thoughts during your yoga practice, and making space for breath, movement, and presence, is what makes you feel so rejuvenated by the time you're done.

Try applying this practice off the mat by doing a bit of soul-searching, and seeing if there's anything (or anyone) in your life that is no longer contributing to your personal growth. Once you find what's holding you back, let that sh*t go, girl.

As noted poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (more commonly known as just "Rumi") wrote, "be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop." Do your tree pose in yoga class, and act as a tree outside of the studio by allowing your life to grow and prosper in the most stunning way possible.