So, Yogi, you want to know how to remain connected to your innately divine self AND function efficiently in the world as your wonderful human person?
You probably know what I’m going to say by now, and that is to start putting your attention on building a daily spiritual practice. It’s not ancient woo-woo nonsense…science shows the incredible benefits of meditation, yoga and some spiritual foundation as a part of your daily life.
And I’m all into health AND wellness information that supports my physical and mental health. Hello! I’ve got scoliosis and ADHD – these things need to be cared for on the physical and psychological level. The modern-day Yogi does NOT go into the mountain cave – they go into the world and make a positive impact.
My point is this – taking care of yourself and connecting with the Self are not two separate things. They are complementary, if not interdependent. It’s like, what came first, the chicken or the egg?
The early morning realizations in meditation or getting to bed before 10? Ok, that one is obvious – you must go to bed early to get up early.
Am I taking care of my spine by practicing yogasana or practicing yogasana to take care of my spine?
Are you meditating to calm your anxiety or is your calm mind inspiring a meditation?
Everything in our lives is interconnected and relational. If you don’t get that, you will struggle.
And, moving your life toward thriving is a process, a journey and [insert total cliche here] THE DESTINATION!
I outlined these five essential non-yoga habits that have skyrocketed my yoga practice – guess what? You do not have to come to India and live in the ashram to practice them.
I didn’t set out trying to improve my life with yoga sadhana (daily spiritual practice), but I have realized the tangible results and how much power there is in subtlety. The world is so unbelievable right now. Polarized, divided, hurting. If you’re anything like me, you’re sensitive to the world around you and find it difficult just to be easy.
Whether you adopt some healthy lifestyle habits or just focus on a small amount of daily yoga, you will reap both benefits. On both the physical, relative level and the more profound, spiritual level.
So check out these simple (not easy!) non-yoga habits to seriously and speedily support your daily yoga practice! 👇
1. Prioritizing early to bed for 8 hours of sleep
Ok, so waking with the sunrise is a bit of a stretch for you. I get that. However, I just read the book Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker and it’s so clear that getting to bed early and prioritizing 8 hours of sleep (no matter what) is the best thing I can do for my practice and overall well-being.
I know for some of you out there that’s impossible (hello, parents), but even just beginning to examine your sleep routines helps get into the solution of how to get MORE!
Ask yourself the simple questions which lead to simple solutions – what would my sleep (and life) look like if I cut out screens an hour before bed more often than not?
2. Joining an online Satsang community
This is HUGE for me. When I’m away from my satsang community in India – I am like a fish out of water. I travel most months of the year so it’s complicated for me to remain established with a regular in-person community.
Do any other travellers or remote workers out there feel me?
Connecting to weekly online meditation and satsang groups is nourishing, comforting, and supportive of giving me energy for my sadhana on the daily. It’s like a battery recharge to be in a community, even an online community, with other meditators and yogis trying to uncover and reside within that peaceful state.
Swamiji said ‘you’re better off as a deer in the forest dying of thirst than being in the company of those who don’t love and appreciate you’ – I take this as a reminder to constantly put myself in the company of those who see me not only as, Bobbi the woman, but those who reflect the great Being I am inside.
Ask yourself what joining a like-minded community would do for your private yoga practice?
Remember – it’s independent work, but we can’t do it alone.
3. Being of Service
Service or Seva is one of the values I’ve identified for living a purposeful life. And it’s interconnected with my yoga sadhana practice.
In many scriptures, Seva is essential to living a spiritual life in nearly all faith-based practices. Being of service is one of the simplest ways to practice the knowledge of oneness by treating and serving others with that same divine energy which you yourself are.
This comes through my work for Tribe of Lambs right now. With World AIDS Day coming up on December 1st, it brings me a lot of joy to host a free yoga class and raise awareness for kids facing heartbreaking discrimination in India. (Join the FREE class by dropping me a note here) This simple act of service is an opportunity to build community, advocate for equality and oneness and reflect on my position of privilege and how I can do more for those in need right now.
Ask yourself in what ways do you serve selflessly in your life? Where can you add in small moments of service?
4. Consuming Consciously
Believe it or not, where you spend your money and what you decide to put in or on your body and the bodies of others affects your yoga practice.
At every point of consumption, we have a choice, and that choice creates an impact – so I invite you to consider three areas of your life where you’re constantly voting with your dollar and impacting yourself and the world around you (even if you can’t see it).
This way of thinking allows us to practice two fundamental principles of yoga – ahimsa (non-harming) and apraigrahaha (non-greed). We consume less, and we consume consciously.
This equates to a cleaner, healthier, simpler environment to practice yoga in and to live in – aka, your body is your temple, don’t adorn it with cheap shit. I did a whole episode on this topic in season one of the podcast – check it out HERE. But here are some key points to consider when consuming consciously:
- Food and Alcohol – Is there a spiritual or moral way to kill or exploit an animal for dairy, milk, or eggs? Where do my food choices negatively impact the planet? My health – do you know the cost to your body with large volumes of alcohol? Eek! We become what we eat! So that fear and pain an animal endures to please our satiety and indulgent taste buds becomes our nervous systems. In the yogic scriptures, it is said that our physical body is our food body. Reflect on that one. This is why vegetarianism is widely practiced in India. And more recently, veganism is on the rise as the widespread suffering of dairy animals is not considered ahmisic. And if this makes you uncomfortable – I get it. I grew up eating all animals on my grandparent’s cattle ranch. But once I started to consider my food choices on a spiritual and energetic level, my life and yoga practice skyrocketed with a plant based life.
- As black Friday is upon us, let’s seriously revisit the age-old principle of reduce, reuse, and recycle. By less, use what you have, or buy secondhand. It may require some practice at first, but ask yourself what space you could create by recognizing and respecting the interconnectedness of all your choices. Keep returning to that principle of non-greed…what about prioritizing less “stuff” in our lives and more “space”? Consider what that might mean for your home environment. To just have less? And if we’re going to buy something because, of course, we buy things for ourselves and share with our loved ones often – think about giving experiences to loved ones and prioritizing quality time with those who you love and appreciate.
- And if you are going to buy new – DO your research. Every choice we make has an impact – if the option is to spend $100 on new boots that were made at the suffering and expense of another, whether it be an animal skin or sweatshop conditions, perhaps sourcing your gear from a company that values people and the planet over profit and paying a few bucks more. Money tight? Buy used. Shopping – check yourself & educate yourself on the impacts of fast fashion, cheap electronics, synthetic materials on your skin, amazon waste, and tested beauty products. Are you purchasing items you need, or are you feeding into the mass advertising and marketing illusions which contribute to an unequal, unjust world where the global north impacts the whole planet & people negatively?
Living consciously as a yogi which means consuming consciously and participating in a thoughtful, kind and compassionate world. Look at the big picture. Ask yourself, where might my attachment to “my life, my house, my clothes, my traditions, my tastebuds, my car, my family, my friends, my, my, my, me, me, me”…be creating more duality and separation in your life and counteracting to all your hard work on the yoga mat?
5. Mastering the art of showing up
Ok full disclosure: I read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and POW – it not only transformed my practice but also working out, eating better, language learning (currently busting out Swedish AND Hindi!), reading and work. The thing is – our lives are not compartmentalized.
The way we show up in one area of life is the way we show up in ALL areas of our lives.
When I started on my daily yoga sadhana journey in January 2020 I was hard core – like minimum 2 hours of practice. Oh ya, that’s not sustainable, obviously. And I went through a real slump where I was down on myself for not levelling up like that – which naturally made me totally unmotivated. So I applied the habit of just showing up for a few minutes of meditation, one round of kapalabhati breathing and a few sun salutations. Well, it’s kept me in my habit of practicing daily and also practicing grace for what it means to show up more or less.
There is a massive victory in committing to something as important as your practice AND being ok with it, even if it’s only a few minutes in the morning. And guess what? Those feel-good endorphins and serotonin will be irresistible to keep going and keep showing up. Just roll out your mat, or open that book, or walk around that block, and I promise you’ll feel great about it.
Ask yourself, what would my life and my yoga practice look like if I stopped caring about the results and only committed to showing up?
To recap, these five non-yoga habits have not only skyrocketed my daily practice but help me sustain it and live the principles of yoga in all my affairs:
- Going to bed early and getting 8 hours of sleep.
- Joining an online satsang, meditation, and yoga community
- Being of Service
- Consuming Consciously: Food, alcohol, shopping, using the simple principles of non-harming and non-greed to guide your consumption choices and help you vote for the world you believe in with your precious money and time.
- Mastering the art of showing up.
Forming habits and cultivating a daily practice is hard work. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. And listen, there are other habits that might serve you and your life better (hello to working out, therapy, sunlight exposure, etc, etc, etcccc). These are just a few non-yoga habits that serve me where I am on my journey.
Whatever your habits or your practice – choose consistency over perfection, every time. Because there’s no chance we’ll live up to our standards of perfection – which, FYI we hold to unreasonable standards for ourselves compared to others.
Finally, it’s good to remember that just because the yogi aims to reunite with that Universal consciousness and transcend all limitations of mind and body – does not mean we don’t take care of our lives and loved ones on the relative field—quite the opposite. And when we’re tuned into that Source energy and awareness of One thread of life pulsing through us all – we’re more included to live a reflective life that is supportive of peace, joy and freedom.
Let me know what you think, friends! Do you have any non-yoga habits that support your yoga practice and life that I missed?