A daily yoga practice gives you the chance to recentre, reflect and celebrate the small things. Practising self-care enables us to press pause on the fast pace of modern life. Choose one or all of these simple rituals to incorporate into your day: Pranayama or breathing with awareness, meditation or mindfulness.
Is yoga a ritual?
How you choose to include yoga in your life is completely up to you – there are no strict rules. Taking the time out of your day to practise yoga is a ritual in itself. The ritual is not necessarily religious or spiritual; it is a flexible term for practising actions that underneath hold a deeper meaning.
There are many different kinds to try out – from simple breathing exercises to ritual hot yoga. Experiment and find the right rituals for you and your lifestyle.
Understanding yoga symbols and meanings helps guide our thinking and give us a better understanding of the benefits.
In Ayurveda, the daily ritual of self-care is called Dinacharya. In Sanskrit, Dina means day, sun or flow, and Charya means practice or conduct. Practising Dinacharya helps us connect with ourselves, and lead lives of tranquillity and fulfilment.
These rituals were developed to keep the body in tune with the natural earth cycles and rhythms of the day.
Breathing with awareness
Practise Dinacharya when you begin your day. Before you start emails and downing your coffee, try this simple breathing technique to begin your day and release everything that no longer serves you.
The highly beneficial ‘Pranayama’ breathing technique the perfect example of how simple yet powerful yoga rituals can be, and takes just a few minutes of your time.
Nadisodhana-alternate nostril breathing
Benefits: Corrects the negative habit of shallow breathing. Helps balance how we use the two sides of the brain – the logical left side and the creative right side – as well as having a harmonising effect on the nervous system.
Method: Sit cross–legged with a straight spine, shoulders back and relaxed, and the eyes closed. Bring the right hand into Visnu Mudra yoga position, with the index and middle fingers tucked into the palm of the hand.
- Exhale fully through both nostrils to begin.
- Keeping the right hand in Visnu Mudra, bring the thumb to close the right nostril, place your middle two fingers on your third eye, and inhale deeply through the left nostril to the count of four.
- Pinch both nostrils with the thumb and ring finger, and then release the thumb and exhale fully through the right nostril to the count of eight.
- Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four.
- Pinch both nostrils again and immediately exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight. This is one round of Nadisodhana. Repeat for 8-10 rounds.
Modern life can be challenging; by committing to yoga 20 minutes every day, you will gradually benefit from the calming effect and renewal yoga brings.
Whether it’s a much-needed pause before a busy workday, or a positive start to the weekend as one of the yoga Saturday warriors, each morning is a chance to start again – a renewal. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t forget to breathe.