Yoga and hapiness

Six simple acts that can lead to a happier, healthier life.

Health, harmony, endorphin-rich happiness—there are as many reasons for practicing yoga as there are styles to choose from. But ultimately, you practice yoga because it helps you live your daily life. As a practice in self-awareness, yoga is an infinitely rich guide to how you spend the hours you’re not on the mat. But it’s not always easy to access the heightened awareness you find during yoga. One way to find that connection is to become more aware of how the small choices you make every day affect you, your community, and the world around you. Maybe next year you’d like to take better care of your body, help others, or reduce your impact on the planet. Whatever your intention, when you make positive changes grounded in self-awareness, you can connect with who you are and why you do what you do. Here are seven small acts that can help you understand yourself, connect with the world around you, and live your yoga.

buddhaShift Your Perspective

To radically shift your outlook, break out of your regular routine. Go a different way to work, try a new food, it’s always a good place to start. Then notice how one seemingly simple change affects the way everything else appears to you. “The opening verse of the Dharmapada—an anthology of quotes attributed to the Buddha—says, ‘We create the world with our thoughts and our perceptions.’ This means that the only thing we know about this world we are living in is how we perceive it.”

Waste Not

Commit to a single day free of disposable products. And don’t be discouraged if achieving a waste-free day proves harder than you think. Just becoming aware of what you’re discarding is likely to usher in other changes that will eventually have an even greater effect on the environment.

Restore Health and Happiness

As an antidote to striving for success in all that you do (including asana), devote one practice a week to poses that quiet, nourish, and center. Begin your restorative practice by sitting quietly for a few moments and connecting with your breath.

Experience Silence

Spend some time in silence. Practicing silence can also be a way of conserving prana, or “life force.” See if you can appreciate all the noises: the sounds of birds, wind in the trees, the movements of other people, even traffic. You might find the respite from speech to be deeply restful.

Be a Creator

Creating something with your hands can be an active meditation, an opportunity to take a break from conscious thought and allow yourself to freely engage with your creative side. Make an Offering

Make an offering

Commit to one selfless act each week. You’ll be surprised at how even a simple act like offering your seat on a crowded bus can foster a sense of connection and a respect for the welfare of others. All yoga begins with karma yoga, which is action done as a service to others.

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