Yoga on and off the mat

Editorial Lifestyle Retreats & Relaxation

An introduction to what yoga is really about and a demonstration that there are many ways to embrace the philosophy and practices of yoga which doesn't necessarily include a class or a mat!

In my first Blog for My Guide Marbella I have chosen to write about how Yoga can be found both on and off the mat; an introduction to what yoga is really about and a demonstration that there are many ways to embrace the philosophy and practices of yoga which doesn't necessarily include a class or a mat!  The techniques I describe can become a part of your every day and most certainly something that I embrace daily as part of my life in Marbella.

What is Yoga?

Yoga means to unite or connect. It was brought to the west from India through Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga focusses on the body and breath through asanas (postures), which strengthen and stretch muscles and joints. The immune system becomes stronger, the digestive system balanced. When we embrace the moment (body) as it is and through compassion, we also increase the level of contentment that not only affects ourselves but also those around us.

Yoga doesn't need to be contained to a studio space or a quiet, peaceful space in a local Marbella park, or a sweat-filled room with the heating on max Yoga can begin with small adjustments within our lifestyle and thereby bring about change to our overall health and wellbeing. When you truly embrace yoga it isn't just about attending a weekly class or a way to "get fit" (even though this is still great to do!) it is a much deeper concept that will eventually increase the contentment of oneself as well as those around us.

In our daily lives, where connectivity has become 24/7, it is increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy balance between doing and being. The use of technology is growing, while levels of happiness in people’s lives are declining. The dependence on medication to cope with daily routines as well as assisting sleep is on the increase. This “busyness” often leaves us feeling drained, inadequate, and distracted. Symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, high/low blood pressure, problems sleeping or with digestion, are all signs that something needs to change.

This change needs to start with ourselves and well before the yoga mat comes out; by knowing and respecting our limits, strengths/weaknesses. From here, we can accept, adjust and accommodate ourselves towards a more peaceful way of existence.  When our body is healthy, our mind becomes clear. With a clear mind, we align ourselves with what serves us, not with what drains us.

Today yoga is well accepted. We find yoga at work, in schools, in sports, as well as in our living rooms, through on-line classes. Trial and error will lead you to the most suitable style of yoga and even with many different schools and systems of yoga, the goal is the same, Peace.

Peace of mind: A mind that is calm and clear instead of driving you crazy.
Peace in the body: A body that is strong, healthy and balanced allowing us to be useful in our everyday life.
Peace at heart: An open and receptive heart truly capable to see beyond egoistic desires.

So, the question we all want to know, how can we find this peace off the Yoga Mat?

P: Practice- Yoga poses practised regularly, strengthens the muscles, lengthens the connective tissues and balances the systems in our physical body. Off the mat, we can succeed in anything we repeat over and over again. It is recommended to practice for a long time, without breaks and with all your heart.
E: Enquiry – Being curious about where tension and openings are in the body? How can small or big changes to the pose offer us relief? Off the mat we continue that observation to situations, feelings and actions without placing judgments on them.
A: Alignment – Placing body parts where they are safe, allow us to practice with no fear of injury. Am I giving myself the same safety off the mat in order to be useful and aligned with my higher purpose, not just my daily grind?
C: Concentration- Breath is used to tame the mind, to arrive in the meditative state which brings clarity. Clarity is contagious and allows you off the mat to see clearly where to go, when to stay and where to change.
E: Embrace- On the mat completely embracing every part of your body. Can I love every shape and form it takes without getting stuck in temporary or permanent conditions? Embracing life means you choose to love what you do and not only do what you love. This is the key to the higher state of consciousness and a more steady level of peace.

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves: Do I want to be right or do I want peace? This is when we go through the PEACE reminders and we become the change we wish to see in others.

This is how we move from just “being alive” to “fully living”.


Petra is a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha and Raja Yoga teacher and has been teaching since 2005. Her trademark is an energizing workout, which combines graceful movements with powerful breathing and a focused gaze. Working with all students abilities, she helps to create a personal yoga program suited to each individual's needs whether they are living or travelling to Marbella.
If you would like to arrange a consultation or talk with Petra find her details on her page here /wellness/yoga-flow-with-petra