7 Life Hacks to Fit Yoga into a Busy Lifestyle
Meditation has been touted for decades regarding its beneficial qualities to the mind and body however; the turbulence of modern life and the common excuse of having no time to actually do it often keeps us from experiencing its full value. Research has shown that people are often not as hopelessly busy as they feel; overcoming their perceived lack of time sometimes requires nothing more than a perspective shift. As the adage goes: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” Here are seven opportunities to sneak some meditation into your daily life.
For those of you whom it takes a couple snooze button cycles to muster the willpower to drag yourself out of bed, instead of futilely trying to will your alarm not to sound again, practice mindful breathing to savor every moment you have left between the sheets and charge your prana (Life Force) batteries for the day ahead. To practice ujjayi breathing, gently constrict the back of your throat as if you are fogging up a mirror, so you can hear and feel your breath. Seal your lips, and breathe in and out through your nose. Inhale for four counts, pause briefly, then exhale for four counts, and pause briefly. Notice the sound and sensation of each breath. Notice the effect this breathing technique has on your mind and body. By the time your final alarm sounds (the one where you absolutely have to get up), you will feel much more energized than if you had spent those minutes mentally resisting the morning.
Begin your day by attuning your senses to make you sharper and more alert for the day ahead. As you step into the shower, notice the sensation as the steam fills your nose and the warm water contacts your skin. Observe the texture of the basin under your feet, the shampoo in your hair, and the soap bubbles on your body. Consciously inhale the bold fragrances being released from the soaps and cleansers applied. Now shift your awareness to your sight, notice the pattern in the tiles, their shapes and colors, and how light and water interplay against these backdrops. Then listen. Instead of dismissing the white noise of cascading water, allow it to fill your awareness. Once you've focused on each sense individually, feel the sensations as they all come together.
First thing in the morning is the ideal time to set an intention for your day. If you have affirmations, mantras, or sankalpas (resolutions), post them on your mirror so you can read them as you brush your teeth or recite them aloud as you comb your hair.
A common guided meditation is to expand a visualized circle of loving kindness to include friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, and even people you dislike. Driving is not the time for visualisation; however, you may use your commute to practice extending compassion. Set an intention at the beginning of your commute to exude love. Acknowledge other drivers stuck in traffic around you as beautiful, purposeful, creative human beings, not just cars in your way. And, that person who cut you off: give them the benefit of the doubt that they were driving aggressively to respond to something deeply important.Thank your bus driver, smile and nod as you stop your bike to allow pedestrians to cross the street, and hold the office door open for the person behind you.
Being conscious of what you eat helps cultivate a healthy diet. Whether it's for your whole lunch break or just for a single sip of coffee, commit to being mindful about the things you eat and drink each day. Be aware of the motivations that lead you to this particular food choice. Notice it's appearance and smell, then its texture, temperature, and flavor. Notice how it makes you feel while eating it and afterward. The more often you eat consciously, the better choices you begin to make concerning food.
Rescue your waning productivity during your mid-afternoon energy lull by resetting with a quick meditation break—even if it's just for five minutes. Practicing alternate nostril breathing will help balance your active and passive energies, and give you a drishti (focal point) for your meditation. Use your right thumb and index finger to alternately plug your right and left nostrils. Here’s how; exhale all your air, plug the right nostril, and inhale through the left nostril for four counts. (Optional: plug both nostrils, and hold the breath for four counts.) Then, exhale through the right nostril for eight counts. Go the other way to complete one cycle: inhale through the right for four counts, (hold the breath for four counts), exhale for eight counts. Continue for one to five minutes, and complete the practice by exhaling through the left nostril.
After a busy day, it’s hard to instantaneously turn your mind off and fall into a deep, sweet sleep. You may think you do not have time to do a relaxing meditation practice, but a twenty-minute yoga nidra (sleep) practice could help you avoid an hour of tossing and turning trying to get to sleep. Search your favorite yoga streaming site for a recorded yoga nidra practice to do as part of your bedtime wind down.
Having a strong meditation practice is not something that happens overnight, infact it can take years to perfect, however; the benefits are happening immediately. Do your body and your mind a favor, take those five minutes to reset yourself for your day, happiness comes from the inside!