Developing an incidental yoga practice: micro yoga practices to support better body and mind wellbeing
In part one of a three-part series exploring wellness trends to support your body and mind, incidental activity is discussed.
I used to hold quite fixed ideas that my yoga practice needed to be at least an hour on my mat and working with my body in a particular way. I would sometimes struggle to find enough time for a full session or feel tired, but I was carrying these “should” beliefs about what my yoga needed to look like. These rigid expectations of myself would often leave me feeling guilty or worried – not the desired outcomes from yoga! If this sounds familiar to you, then you might like to explore “incidental practices”. Read on if you’d like to learn more!
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What are incidental yoga practices?
Incidental practices involves finding time for smaller mini practices throughout the day. We might incorporate micro practices and techniques in connection with other activities by finding small spaces of time to fit in some movement, breath work, mindfulness, stretching, or introspective awareness around the other things happening during the day. In this way, we are letting go of time pressures and building a more sustainable practice. Of course, there are times when protecting space for a more substantial yoga practice is definitely beneficial to us (and something I still do), and at the same time, there might be times when exploring micro yoga practices gives a sense of freedom and ease.
Building your incidental yoga practice
To help illustrate this approach in more detail, recently I kept track of the micro yoga practices that I integrated during a typical working day in Exeter. Here are the ways in which I have started to explore this approach so far:
Early morning: after waking in the morning, I noticed some tightness in my lower back and I spent a few minutes practicing lower back tension relief stretches including lying down child’s pose and a spine twist.
Making coffee: whilst the kettle was boiling, I practiced a brief mindfulness exercise, taking a few moments to observe my internal experiences, connect with my breath, and exploring an internal gaze.
On my lunchbreak: after sitting down for the whole morning, my body wanted some movement! I practiced some floor-based movements including cat and cow flows and two sun salutations. I also wandered around the garden in the sunshine with a coffee, quietly observing nature and sounds.
During the afternoon: some shoulder opening stretches including eagle arms and reverse prayer, and gentle movements of the neck whilst seated at the desk.
Before teaching a yoga class: some moments of quite reflection and grounding awareness into my body. To help me connect with my soothing system and be present for the people joining my class, I practiced some breath work for a couple of minutes before leaving the house.
At the end of the day: to decompress at the day, I found ten minutes to practice a restful legs up the wall pose. My mind was quite occupied with worry thoughts, so I included some compassion-focused imagery work during the yoga pose.
Hopefully this gives an idea about how we can be more flexible with our approaches to our yoga practices. As you can see from these examples, my yoga practices weren't confined to being on the yoga mat or finding a large chunk of time.
I’ll invite you to consider the ways in which finding small spaces of time for practices throughout the day might feel more manageable. All of these micro practices influence our overall sense of wellbeing in much bigger ways, and helps to keep us connected to our self and wellness intentions.
If you would like to learn more about the body and mind practices offered by Kayleigh in Exeter, check out the wellbeing yoga offerings.
Kayleigh offers psychology-informed wellbeing yoga classes, courses, and workshops in person in Exeter, to groups, organisations, charities, and businesses, and online. Find out more about Kayleigh's approach to yoga through BAM Therapy.