Hygge, the Danish concept of warmth and wellbeing and yoga have a lot in common. Read on to find out more and our 7 favourite ways to ‘hygge our yoga practice.’
Hygge is the Danish concept of creating a feeling of warmth, comfort, conviviality and contentment. It is most often associated with winter: a time for journeying inwards. However, hygge, a bit like yoga, is for all seasons. There is a theory that the concept of hygge developed when the Danes lost territory and literally journeyed inwards, finding peace and comfort in being with their nearest and dearest. Whether that theory stands up to close examination or not, there are lots of ways in which bringing a touch of hygge to our yoga, brings us to the heart of the yoga practice. Here are our favourite 7 ways to add a touch of hygge to our yoga practice.
1. Create your perfect environment
Setting up a space for yoga can be fun and can make your time on the mat more meaningful. Everyday life can be busy and fraught. Finding a small corner for your yoga mat and perhaps lighting a candle or playing some gentle music as you set up, can help you set the tone and leave the rest of the day behind. Perhaps you want to practice where you can see photos of loved ones, or next to some plants that remind you of nature. You can get as creative as you like.
Remember though that all you need is a small space and just a little something to mark out the time you’re awarding yourself. Creating an environment can sound ambitious, but in reality, it is a ritual to signal to your mind to slow down. Even the simple act of rolling out your mat and setting aside your shoes can do this for you.
2. Make it a ritual
After you’ve set up your space, think about what you are wearing and what you might need for your yoga practice. You might want to have an extra cozy jumper or socks ready. At Movement for Modern Life, we love to practice in our comfiest, coziest clothes. Taking a hygge approach to yoga means not worrying about having the latest high tech leggings but rather focussing on how you feel and not how you look. What is it that makes you feel most comfortable?
3. Practice contentment
The feeling of contentment lies at the core of both hygge and of yoga philosophy. Denmark consistently scores as the world’s most content nation. Many believe that hygge is the reason for this. The Danes practice contentment and it’s a feeling that has more to do with connecting and belonging than with consuming. In yoga, contentment or Santosha is about acknowledging what you do have rather than focussing on what you don’t. It is about starting where you are now.
Are you able to replace the feeling of striving with a sense of contentment? In a society which propels us into yearning for the next big thing, are we able to see the bigger picture? Would consuming less make us feel happier with what we have and perhaps save precious resources. We can begin on the yoga mat by not comparing ourselves with others or striving to get into a perfect shape. Hygge like yoga is about what happens on the inside.
4. Show some loving kindness
At its heart, hygge is about connection and a sense of belonging. Yoga is a powerful way to ignite this sense of connection. You might want to amplify this feeling by adding in a loving-kindness meditation to your yoga practice where you send love to friends, neighbours and all living creatures. Or perhaps you might like to try and weave loving-kindness throughout your practice. You can amplify the sense of connection by incorporating some self-massage into your yoga. Touch releases the hormone oxytocin which makes us feel better and reduces stress.
5. Embrace wellbeing
Hygge is all about making everyday feel special and the best way to do this is by living mindfully. Hygge asks us to think about what we can do to amplify our sense of wellbeing, and to fully embrace each moment. In fact, hygge has sometimes been described as the art of being present. Does this sound familiar? Being present is also central to the teaching of yoga. Meik Weiking, CEO of the happiness research institute in Copenhagen says: “ The Danes are exceptionally good at decoupling wealth and well-being,” he says. “We focus on the small things that really matter, including spending more quality time with friends and family”
6. Get Cosy
Hygge invites you to get cosy and comfortable. It is a useful lesson for the way in which we practice yoga. It can be more supportive and instructive to the body to practice with props which can support us to be more present with what we are feeling. Using props can help us to learn beneficial habits rather than trying to contort our bodies into any particular shape.
7. Take your time
Hygge is all about taking your time – it requires you to allow a good stew to simmer for long enough, perhaps whilst you curl up with a book. Or taking the time to chat to a loved one over a cup of tea. All too often we rush through our yoga practice rather than focus on the simple pleasure of feeling our bodies moving and then luxuriating in our final relaxation. All too often this is the portion we cut short or cut out all together, but it is the bit that we should be focusing on. Taking our time to lie under a warm, cosy blanket and feeling the comforting constant of our breath rising and falling. Adding hygge to our yoga practice costs nothing and yet, can enrich the experience immeasurably.
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