What to do before, during, and after you practice yoga

Water Lily

Have you ever asked yourself the question what to do before, during and after you practice yoga? The video at the bottom of this post shows a beautiful interview with Simon Borg-Olivier where he answers this question. He does so on a physical and philosophical level. Below I provide a short summary though his passionate speech is definitely worth 11 minutes of your time… 😉

How to practice yoga on a physical level

Simon Borg-Olivier explains how important it is to lengthen your body and stay relaxed while doing yoga:

“It is like Bruce Lee, he used to say “be like water“. As soon as you are hard you cannot fight anyone. If you are like water, they hit you and you just flow away. And I love Astanga Vinyasa yoga but many of the practitioners I know are too tense (…) It has to be soft while being strong. Like Bruce Lee, be like water… Lengthen and relax, before, during and after. That’s the first stage.”

How to practice yoga in your daily life

In the video Simon Borg-Olivier also talks about this question on a more philosophical level and how you can apply the first two stages of yoga, Yamas and Niyamas, to your daily life. He explains how the translation of Yamas (Universal Morality) into English does not work for him and how Yamas could also be phrased positively so that it tells you what to do instead of what not to do:

  • Ahimsa: Being gentle instead of Non-violence
  • Satya: Being balanced instead of Truthfulness (which is not phrased negatively but it can be quite hurtful)
  • Asteya: Giving instead of Non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya: Nourishing relationships instead of No sex
  • Aparigraha: Freedom instead of Non-attachment

“So when I look at yoga, before my practice, after my practice, during my practice, I think (…) yoga in the expression of Yama is to approach yoga, physical practice, life, the way you treat yourself and other people in a peaceful, gentle, balanced way of giving nourishment and freedom. Gentle, balanced giving of nourishment and freedom. And you do that to yourself and the people around you, before you practice. You do it to yourself during your practice and you take it to the rest of the world after your practice. Hopefully in a better way because you have taught it to yourself first.”

Simon Borg-Olivier goes on to explain how you can apply the same principles when you work with Niyamas (Personal Observances). He talks about three things you have to do to get yoga:

  1. Unblock the blockages
  2. Make energy move
  3. Sit back and enjoy the natural state of paradise we have inside ourselves (like babies do!)

According to him, the blockages that make us unyogic are: over-tensing, over-stretching, over-breathing, over-thinking (like a thousand monkeys in the head) and over-eating. He also explains how Niyamas could be interpreted differently:

  • Sauca: Unblock the blockages inside and not just Cleanliness in an exterior sense
  • Santosa: Choose your attitude (often happiness) and not just Contentment
  • Tapas: Passion and not just Ardour
  • Svadhyaya: The quest for self-knowledge and not just Self-study
  • Isvarapranidhana: Love instead of something Religious

“So for me when I approach my yoga, during my practice, before my practice, after my practice, what I try and take to the world and wake up with in the morning is yoga in terms of Niyama (…) the passionate quest to remove the obstacles of happiness and loving connection. This is what I look for before, during and after.”


Photo credit: Morguefile – Lauramusikanski