Healthy Habits All Yogis Should Practice

Yoga for overall health

As a yogi, at some point what matters is that the small efforts you make on your mat are bearing results off the mat. Yoga is a great main pillar that holds the structure of your well-being steady. But you should practice yoga to live your life and flourish in it, rather than living your life to practice yoga.

These seven habits to practice while you’re off your yoga mat can supplement your yoga practice and keep you moving towards optimal health mentally, emotionally and physically.

1. Sleep hygiene

Sleep is paramount for your health. Poor sleep negatively affects your mental health, concentration, balance, weight, mood, blood pressure and your overall ability to think, speak and act with clarity.

Optimize your sleep by mapping out your evening routine. Start your evening by eating dinner early, ideally by 6 p.m. Then unplug and spend your evening nourishing yourself with self-car or connecting with loved ones. Avoid anything overstimulating that sends your mind into overthinking before bed. Instead of watching Netflix or looking at your phone, go for a walk, play games with your family or take a bath to wind down.

Tidy up your bedroom, make your bed and make sure it is clean and smells good. If it’s a space that feels calm and comforting, you will go to bed earlier, ideally by 9:30 p.m. Notice your sleep sensitivities. If you’re sensitive to light, use blackout blinds. If you tend to get anxious, make a thorough to-do list before you sleep. If you toss and turn, switch to a heavier comforter or weighted blanket. If noise keeps you up and you live in the city, use a white noise app. Set the room temperature down to 67 degrees for deeper sleep. Remove all devices, including your phone, watch, laptop and anything that creates light or noise from your bedroom.

2. Cardio and weight training

Depending on the style, yoga alone can be a workout, and it is a great way to keep your body healthy, toned, pain-free, strong and flexible. For me, my yoga practice keeps me free of injury, and it is the only way I am able to work out in any other capacity.

Most yoga practices, especially as you become more acclimated to them, are not a cardiovascular workout or strength focused. Implement both cardio and basic weight training three times a week to get variety in your workouts and balance strengthening and stretching routines. Mentally, this will keep you interested and keep your mind more engaged and sharp with different challenges.

3. Cultivate self-awareness.

One of the greatest benefits of practicing yoga is learning to respond rather than react. During a yoga practice, you use a deep breathing technique where you expand your breath in and out through your nose. If you find that you cannot maintain this expansive breath, you are overexerting yourself, and you should pause to reestablish deep breathing. It is a way to govern your effort and prevent you from pushing yourself beyond what is safe.

This same technique can be helpful in making healthy decisions. You become very attuned to your breath, especially when you are short of breath. Whether you are having a stressful conversation, about to eat an unhealthy snack, stuck in traffic or feeling pressure at work, you can pause, take a deep breath, process it, and then proceed more mindfully. This doesn’t make hard times easy, but it makes them a little bit easier to live with.

4. Yoga nidra

Yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, is different from a yoga practice or seated meditation because you lay on your back completely still and allow the teacher to fully guide you. You withdraw from all of your senses except listening.

This practice is a great tool for deep relaxation, recovering from bad sleep, insomnia and anxiety. Yoga nidra also helps to kick bad habits and addictions. Most importantly, it’s very accessible, and you can listen to yoga nidra scripts for free on YouTube or on apps like Insight Timer.

5. Practice service.

One of the greatest joys of practicing yoga is taking the teachings and lessons you cultivate in class and sharing them with others. This doesn’t mean you should preach or push yoga onto other people. Instead, put your intentions into action. Take a yoga teaching as simple as finding beauty in the seemingly mundane, and implement that in your daily life while at your job, as a parent, spouse, sibling or coach.

It’s also rewarding to utilize the inspiration you get in yoga to volunteer to help others in the community. Serving others is one way to feel happy, build character and create a positive ripple effect with everyone you come in contact with.

6. Develop healthy relationships.

You become the company you keep, so keep great company. The people, rituals, teachings and even media you consume on your phone shape who you are. Surround yourself with people that inspire your best, and celebrate your accomplishments. This also means saying goodbye to the people and things in your life that are no longer serving you.

7. Choose to be optimistic.

If you notice that you regularly view yourself negatively, or judge others and see them as competition, then you are living your life through a lens of scarcity. It is a sentiment that is built into the fabric of our culture. Scarcity creates the idea that we should be working harder or doing more and that nothing we do is good enough. This is instinctive, but if you’re not careful, it’s a sentiment that could turn you into a curmudgeon.

Positive self-talk does not usually come naturally. It’s a skill that you have to practice. Over time, you shift your inner dialogue to be more empathetic and train yourself to see the good in people, including yourself.

You will likely fail at this often, but a good way to correct yourself is when you say something pessimistic, restate it with positive language, or find something different and positive to say. Eventually, you will notice you are more confident, happy and pleasant to be around for yourself and others. You will move through life with a sense of ease and abundance.

7 healthy habits all yogis should practice outside of class:

— Sleep hygiene.

— Cardio and weight training.

— Cultivate self-awareness.

— Yoga nidra.

— Practice service.

— Develop healthy relationships.

— Choose to be optimistic.

More from U.S. News

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7 Best Yoga Poses for Strength Training

The Most Popular Yoga Poses and How to Practice Them

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