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Yoga in the Real World

When we first start our yoga or meditation journey, we are seeking relief. We might be drowning in stress from work. Our body may have experienced an illness or injury and we want to ease our pain. We may have suffered an emotional trauma and we want to find a sense of stability. We could be lonely and are looking for friends. When we arrive at the yoga studio, we’re looking for an escape.

For many people, an hour of yoga or meditation a few times a week brings balance to their lives. But for some of us, it’s not enough. We may have started our practice in a casual way; we wanted relief and were not interested in the spiritual side of things.

However, as we become more adept, we experience an internal stillness while on the mat. The world drops away, and we discover peace and unreasonable joy. But once we’re back in the mix of work and play, we feel unsettled. No matter what we do, we find ourselves unsatisfied. An hour or two of escape just doesn’t do it for us. We need more.

When this happens, it’s time to bring our yoga into the real world.

The word yoga means Union. Yoga, in the traditional sense, is the practice of communing with the Divine. It is a meditation that happens through the body and is a pathway to Awakening. In our western society, sometimes this is forgotten.

Yoga classes are sold as a form of exercise and meditation is pitched as way to relieve stress. There is nothing wrong with secular yoga and meditation. They are powerful practices that improve lives in countless ways. Yet their roots lie hidden in plain sight. When a practitioner is ready, the pathway deepens.

We start to recognize our time on the mat is only half of the practice. Our spirit longs for the stillness in the middle of our workday. During our play time with friends, we want to touch the magic of the Divine.

The connection between our practice and normal life becomes apparent. We learn to bring the determination we have to master a posture into our projects. When we interact with others, we show them the same gentleness we offer to our bodies in yoga asana.

As our longing to commune with the Divine increases, we are drawn into mindfulness. Mindfulness means to be fully present with whatever is. We train our mind in day to day activities the same way we train our mind and body on the mat. We bring our yoga into real life.

Unreasonable Joy: Awakening through Trikaya Buddhism offers some tips to directly engage in this process through our body, mind, and sprit:


  • Pay attention to your body throughout the day.
  • Ground your attention in your body. Notice how you sit, stand, walk, and how you recline.
  • Treat your body with respect, listening to what it needs in each posture.
  • Is your body relaxed? Every hour, scan your body for any tension. Take a minute to breathe deeply. Consciously release your muscles and bring your bones into alignment.
  • If you spend time commuting in a car, use every red light you stop at as a reminder to stretch. Reach out in front you with your arms and roll your neck from side to side. 
  • Observe your eating habits. Does the food you eat nourish your body? Do you eat out of habit or only when you are hungry? Eat in silence so you can slow down and taste each bite.


  • Pay attention to the thoughts you think.
  • Are your thoughts beneficial? Are they related to what you are doing right now?
  • Notice the emotions that arise when you think different thoughts. Do you get lost in these emotions?
  • Train the mind to focus on the present. Consciously focus on beauty or gratitude by finding something in your current environment that is beautiful or you feel grateful for. Let your mind rest in these states of beauty and gratitude while interacting with the world.
  • When faced with a challenge or something new, coax your mind to stay with it the same way you encourage yourself to stick with a difficult pose in yoga class.


  • Pay attention to the subtle aspects of your being.
  • What does your spirit want?
  • Feed your spirit by reading books and visiting teachers that inspire you to look deeper into your true nature.
  • Make time to contemplate spiritual teachings and record any insights.

For more practice pointers to bring yoga and meditation into the real world, explore Unreasonable Joy: Awakening through Trikaya Buddhism or join us for meditation at Dharma Center.

This article originally appeared in LA Yoga Magazine

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Published inBuddha Lessons / MindfulnessMeditation