If you do nothing but practice reducing the whirlings of the mind that distract you from what IS, you are practicing yoga. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, this is literally the definition of yoga. All the fancy poses are one tiny part of the practice of clearing the mind of chatter, clutter, and stories that hijack our focus and wellbeing... and being clear about your life, period.
Yoga citta vrtti nirodha, quieting the vibrations of the mind, means paying attention to five types of vibrations or whirlings, specifically:
Evaluation (Pramana): Are you making decisions based on what is actually true? Is there direct observation giving you evidence to evaluate?
Misperception (Viparayaya): Are you making assumptions based on what you think to be true, rather than what actually is?
Conceptualization (Vikalpa): Is the situation or circumstance just an illusion in your mind? A fantasy you’ve made up?
Sleep (Nidra). Are you just checked out and not connected to what is happening?
Memory (Smrtaya): Are you clouding the current circumstances based on a recollection that is positive/negative?
If you just start to notice one of those things shifting a situation from what is to something totally different, you're practicing yoga. The physical practice of asana helps us clear physical and possibly energetic blockages and sets us up to examine the whirl, almost as if we are rising above ourselves, floating and giving us incredible bird's eye perspective that we can bring back to earth.
My most challenging virtue is Smrtaya, or smriti, or memory. As we get older, experience means we've got scars, too, and those scars can be a kind of emotional roadblock to clear seeing, clear thinking.
Here's a practice: take those five vrttis and see if you can name one time for one - or each - when you've been whirling.
Next time it happens, you might notice and be able to quiet that vibration for a yoga practice that is truly life-changing.
Read the full article as written for Vie Meditation: How to Reboot Your Life the Yogi Way.