The Busy Person’s Guide to Yoga and Meditation
Life is busy: whether it’s work, school, relationships, fitness, or social obligations, many of us have a lot going on. We all could probably use a little more “me time”, time to slow down and really nourish our bodies and our minds. One way to do this is to incorporate more yoga and meditation in our lives, but it’s not always easy to find time to attend a yoga class or carve out time to meditate. The good news is that you can sprinkle yoga and meditation throughout your day and experience the calming, nourishing effects on your body and mind without dedicating hours and hours to the practices. We have come up with some simple ways you can practice yoga and meditation throughout your day.
Set an intention for your day when you first wake up
Setting an intention is a small, simple meditation. Spend about five minutes in the morning reflecting on what you have to do that day, and set an intention based on your day ahead. Some examples of simple daily intentions are:
- Today I will not grind my teeth or hold tension in my shoulders during traffic on my commute to work.
- Today I will make sure I eat three healthy meals.
- Today I will be compassionate towards my co-workers, even when I feel frustrated.
- Today I will make time for quality time with my family.
The intention does not have to be complex or over-ambitious. Often times, simple is better. Setting this intention will set the tone for your day.
Move a little before work
Not all of us have time to run or go to a yoga or fitness class before heading off to work. But even doing very simple yoga stretches, such as a few sun salutations, can help us feel more grounded and more open to facing the day with peace of mind. Try a simple sun salutation at home:
- Inhale: Raise your arms over your head
- Exhale: Forward fold
- Inhale: Halfway lift
- Exhale: High plank to low plank
- Inhale: Updog
- Exhale: Down Dog
- Inhale: Step to your hands
- Exhale: Forward fold
Set yoga beaks for yourself for 5 minutes every hour
It is so important to take a break from sitting at a desk looking at a computer, phone, or paperwork. Taking a stretching break at work can make a huge difference not only in how you feel, but also in your productivity. This can be a form of yoga and meditation, as you are not only stretching the body, but also removing yourself from your work to clear your mind. Set a timer on your phone to alert you to stand up and stretch every hour for five minutes. Your body and your mind will thank you.
Try these simple stretches to undo some of the tightness that comes from sitting at a desk:
- Triangle pose – 5 breaths each side
- Wide legged forward fold- 5 breaths
- Low lunge- 5 breaths
- Down dog- 10 breaths
Turn your meals into a meditation
We (hopefully) eat three meals a day. Why not turn these meals into a meditation? When we eat mindfully, we are fully present with each bite, rather than rushing through each meal while looking at our smart phone, watching TV, or finishing up our paperwork. We can turn eating into a mindful, meditative experience by doing the following:
- Sit down at a table free of distractions.
- Before you eat, find gratitude for the fact that you have food on your plate.
- Slowly eat and notice the texture, smells, and taste of the food.
- Notice that as you eat slower, you might eat less, because the stomach often becomes full before we notice.
Write a gratitude list before you go to bed
Nighttime can be crazy for many people (especially those with children). We are often distracted by making and eating dinner, cleaning up, helping the kids with homework, getting them ready for bed. These things can take over and leave very little time to pause and reflect on the day. We can counter this by writing down a gratitude list, or counting our blessings, before we go to bed. You can do this from bed in a journal. This will create a catalogue for you to look back on your days and remember all of your abundant blessings that might otherwise have been forgotten in the rush of daily life.
Incorporating yoga and meditation into our lives can seem like an overwhelming, or unreasonable task. But in reality, it only takes small changes to make a big difference in how we think, feel, act, and react. You can start off by just incorporating one or two of these ideas into your life for a week or two, see how it feels, and add on from there. Eventually you might notice that yoga and meditation have had hugely positive effects on your life!