All Movement is YogaJul 8, 2020
Most straightforwardly, yoga means union. When you link a movement with a breath, you are practicing yoga. When you deliberately join your awareness with an object of attention, you are practicing yoga. If you mindfully align your body while you are standing, walking, sitting, and going about your day, you guessed it, you’re practicing yoga.
There are no wrong ways to move, really. But given that we work from 9–5, are surrounded by furniture, wear shoes with heels, and probably drive most places we go, our bodies are optimized for movement patterns that do not, in turn, optimize our health. Instead, the shoes we wear and the way we move shorten the muscles of the calves and hamstrings, tuck the pelvis under and change the way we carry weight over the lower body (which affects bone density, among other things), and cause aches, pains, and mild to serious injuries all over.
There’s a simple fix, though: change the way you move! Because habits require constant attention to change, the practice of changing your whole body alignment as you go throughout your day is yoga. It is the joining of your attention with the position of your body. You are in your body every moment of every day, and you are in control of your awareness every moment of every day. Joining the two together is a yoga practice that will change how you feel in your body and keep you strong and mobile.
Yoga is not exercise. Or, rather, yoga is not only exercise. It is a method of alignment: aligning your awareness with particular goals and behaviors. This applies to doing sun salutations on your mat, to how you move off the mat (working, resting, hiking, playing, grocery shopping, taking care of children…), to the way you think, and to the way you behave. It’s all connected.
If you are interested in steadying the mind and developing movement practices that keep you healthy and moving for many years to come, I suggest taking your yoga off the mat and cultivating a whole body alignment practice throughout your day. “Do yoga” all day long.
Cultivating a whole body alignment practice can seem overwhelming at first. There’s a lot to learn and many habits to change. Katy Bowman at Nutritious Movement has incredible resources available, and I strongly suggest learning directly from her. Check out her blog, read her books, and follow her on Instagram.
In the meantime, inspired by what I’ve learned from Katy, start doing yoga all day long by bringing your attention to how you already move throughout the day. Do this for a few days; just practice bringing your awareness to what you are doing. Then, check out my next post, “How to Stand at Your Standing Desk + Working from Home,” for some particular alignment suggestions to add in.