When I began practicing yoga 15 years ago, I hadn’t thought about doing yoga anywhere other than on a mat in a studio. This was well before the advent of social media as the go-to for gorgeous images of yogis doing handstands on ledges or holding a split across the 2 railings of a bridge.

At its heart, yoga has always been about embodying a practice with benefits that stay with you after you roll up your mat and return to your daily life. My goal as an instructor is to highlight and promote one of the main reasons yoga has existed for thousands of years: Yoga is a lifelong practice, both on and off the mat.

So what are the benefits of a regular yoga practice? Too many to list here, but for most of us it starts with bodies and minds that feel better. Taking the time to stretch, breathe, and slow down from the day soothes the nervous system creating positive energy.

Easy Every Day Yoga

It’s actually really easy to integrate yoga into your daily routine. Here are some simple moves that can bring the benefits of yoga into your everyday life.

Pose 1 – sitting in a chair (or your desk, your kitchen table, etc.) take “Eagle” arms:

  • Wrap the right arm under the left arm, joining your palms together, or cross your arms in front of you and put each hand on the opposite shoulder
  • Keep the elbows lifted to shoulder height
  • Keep the shoulders down and away from your ears
  • Hold this for 5-10 slow breaths in and out
  • Switch sides and hold the pose again

Pose 2 – open your shoulders and chest:

  • Stand up with your feet at hips distance apart and interlace your fingers behind your back (or hold onto a yoga strap or a belt behind you with hands at least shoulder-distance apart)
  • Bend your knees slightly and fold forward at your hips until your chest lowers towards your thighs
  • Allow your arms to come forward and drop over your head
  • Keep your gaze between your legs
  • Hold this for 5-10 slow breaths in and out
  • Release the bind or strap and slowly rise back up to stand

Pose 3 – legs up the wall:

  • Lie on your back and scoot your bum up to the seam where the floor and the wall meet
  • Lift your legs and rest them against the wall
  • Close your eyes
  • Stay here for 10 slow breaths in and out
  • Bend your knees and roll to your side to return to an upright seated position

There you have it! Three easy poses that benefit both the body and the mind by dialing down the stress and improving your mood.

Share Your Feel-Good Energy And Make The World A Better Place

Good energy is contagious. It doesn’t take much for one person’s energy to spread out into the world. Our choices to be either considerate or not, are well within our control. And while it’s impossible for everyone to make sweeping changes, we can each take small daily actions that create important large-scale shifts over time.

Cultivate Compassion with Your Actions

Start thinking beyond your immediate space. Look up from your phone or book while you’re on the bus or train to see if someone else might need a seat. Walk over to hold open the door for someone struggling to get through it. Pick up the discarded coffee cup lying on the ground next to the trash bin. Not only will these small actions make you more conscious of the people around you, it will make you more conscientious about how you behave in the world.

Be the Standard, Not the Exception

Believe it or not, people will watch you. They’ll see you give up your seat or dispose of garbage that’s not your own. They will also notice the gratitude from those strangers or how the ground around that trash bin immediately looks cleaner. They’ll think about it, mull it over, and they may even give it a go themselves. And that’s when you’ve become the model for how others want to behave every day.

Forgive One Thing Every Day

It’s not a sign of weakness to forgive someone the small transgression of merging into traffic improperly or not holding the door ahead of you. We usually have much bigger fish to fry and all of these small offenses only suck energy away from the parts of our lives that need it more. And rather than others wondering where your spine went, you’ll likely find they’re impressed at how calm your reaction was to inconsiderate behavior. Everyone has a bad day or forgets their manners. It doesn’t make them a bad person. So, let a few things slide, and show others how easy it is to be a compassionate citizen.

In a nutshell, cultivating a regular yoga practice can increase your physical and emotional awareness. Transformation happens when you apply the lessons learned on your mat to your everyday life. That’s when you become a true change agent for good.

Beth Nichols-Howarth is the owner of Get Bent Yoga and has been teaching yoga since 2006. Beth is well-respected for focusing on the importance of proper alignment in order to sustain a lifelong yoga practice. She has studied with some of the most well-known names in yoga and uses the knowledge she's gathered from them to create classes that are balanced, challenging, inspirational, and aspirational. Beth weaves a sense of humor and modernity into her discussions of yogic philosophy because even the most ancient theories are still grounded in the everyday experiences we share. Her goal is to create a space where people can nurture their individual growth within a supportive and uplifting community.