You have heard it time and time again, coming to your mat is a form of self-care, “me time”. There’s a reason it’s said so often - it’s true! Regardless of what takes place during your practice, you are taking care of yourself. 

What sets Yoga apart from other activities such as reading, taking a bath, going for a walk, etc., is that it calls for deep introspection. Whether it’s in asana (physical embodiment), pranayama (breathwork), dhyana (meditation) or svadhyaya (studying), we are brought to the deepest parts of ourselves and get in touch with what rests there. You just can’t replicate it. 

With something so special, something that is bigger than each of us, it would be a disservice to keep it to ourselves. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “take yoga off the mat,”. While well intentioned, it leaves a lot up for interpretation. What are we meant to do, whip out a Warrior II before packing up our work bags at 5pm? Or doing sun breaths when a kid takes crayons to the brand new end table? Not quite.

We can follow the 5 Yamas - the first limb in Patanjali’s eight limbs of Yoga. The Yamas are ethical guidelines based in our interactions with others. They are ahimsa (non-harming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), bramacharaya (moderation of the senses), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). 

But before all of this, it’s wise that we reframe our Yoga practice. Our Yoga practice is not something that will magically transform us by simply doing it. Two things need to be true:

1. We have to believe that all of these practices are meaningful and have the ability to foster growth in every aspect of ourselves. 

2. We have to want that growth.

Yoga is a beautiful gift that has the potential to touch every part of our lives. If it feels abstract, consider the other parts of your life, your hobbies, your role as a partner, friend, etc. Those aspects often intersect, you like going for walks so you go for walks with your friend. Weaving yoga into your everyday life can be that simple - sharing a small Yogic lesson with your child, or telling your coworker how meditating for five minutes every day has impacted your patience. 

So, friends, how will you take Yoga off of your mat today? Start small, smaller than you think you need to. We can’t wait to hear how it goes. 

what does it mean to take yoga off of the mat?

​​by: Kathy Romard