Practicing My Yoga Off The Mat – by Valerie Perrone

Yoga off the mat…what does that really mean?  How can we really define LIVING “yogically”(and if that is even a word!)?  I don’t know or believe that there IS one meaning or definition.  All I know is what is working for me as I practice yoga off the mat…

Yoga increases my self-awareness. I have been practicing various forms of asana for 10 years and what I am learning through my physical asana practice is also teaching me greater awareness of my mind/spirit and overall impact on the world.  Essentially, yoga is allowing me to gain more awareness and responsibly for who and how I am.

What I am working on right now in my asana practice is making small adjustments to alter my physical experience; feeling in my body the impact of just one small adjustment on a particular posture.  For instance, I am working through a torn hamstring right now and when I engage my abdomen and activate my feet in a forward fold, it allows my hamstrings to release in a productive way thus allowing for more enjoyable experience.

Similarly, I am working on this in my life…making small adjustments to who and how I am that create a more productive experience for myself and those around me.

One example would be how I handle unexpected inconveniences like traffic and my ability to shift my attitude from being in a place of frustration and blame to a place of patience and gratitude…

I was on en route from Denver to Boulder at 7am and didn’t plan for all the heavy road construction. My first reaction was frustration and panic…”oh my god, I have to make an 8am staff meeting and I CAN’T be late!”  Then, I took a few deep breaths and pondered what I can control in this situation and how I can make the most of it.  I can let my team know what’s happening and listen to my new audio book.   All of the sudden, I realized that it was actually so great and so unique that I would have an unexpected hour to do nothing but listen to my audio book (ironically, “The Science of Yoga” by William J. Broad)!  I quickly shifted from frustration to gratitude and patience and can guarantee that when I walked into my staff meeting, my energy was much more productive than had I not made the conscious effort to shift my commuting experience.

Another example would be acknowledging and taking responsibility for my less than decent interaction with a stranger…

I walked into a yoga studio last week after a long, tiring day and breezed by the front desk straight for the locker room, totally mindlessly (I vaguely remember the nice woman at the front desk saying “hello” to me). When I stepped out of the locker room to head to class, the woman working the front desk asked me if I needed to sign in for class. Feeling like a jerk and still in a “mood”, I quickly responded with my name, no eye contact and scurried off to class.  Once I got back into my body through asana, I was able to reflect on the previous interaction and realized that this is a perfect example of my yoga practice off the mat and how am responsible for the impact I had on this friendly woman at the front desk.  Two days later, I happened to run into this woman again and I knew it was the universe giving me an opportunity to practice. I introduced myself and decided to muster up the courage to apologize for my poor interaction with her earlier.  She was incredibly gracious, forgave me and said something to the effect that she also practices not taking it personally as she deals with so many people at the front desk coming in and out of the studio.

These may seem like minor examples, yet these small adjustments in my practice of yoga off the mat made a big impact not only on my own experience but also my impact on others.  A little shift can go a long way and I invite you all to practice with me…

This article was originally written by Valerie Perrone: Valerie lives in Denver has been working for lululemon athletica for 7 years, currently holding the Rocky Mountain Regional Manager position. She is an active yogi, runner, and gymnast and is constantly pursuing more ways of living a healthy lifestyle. One of her biggest passions is building and being of service to the community through yoga as she has recently joined forces with Off the Mat Colorado. She has a BA in Humanities from CU Boulder and pursued graduate studies in Merchandising at CSU in Fort Collins. She is working toward her 200 hour yoga alliance teacher certification through Qi Athletic Club in Denver.


Kyle Weiger

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