For so many, including myself, yoga is a time to step away from the craziness of the day-to-day and take a dive into a peaceful mindset.
I take the time on my mat seriously, yet I try not to hold unrealistic expectations.
When I began practicing yoga, I used it as a tool to move my body and calm my mind.
Over the years, my practice has grown and evolved into something more than a workout or a way to clear my mind. My mat has become a place of solitude, gratitude, and mindfulness.
According to the Oxford dictionary, mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by one’s focus on the present moment.” During moments of mindfulness, I am able to accept my feelings and thoughts. It’s rather therapeutic and can truly make a difference in your life.
For many people, going through the steps of everyday life can become a bit redundant.
In those moments when I am doing the same thing that I did yesterday and the day before, I remember to take a second, ground myself, and focus on that precise moment. There is only right here, right now.
Yoga is an excellent tool to help with mindfulness moments because it can be a spiritual practice that grounds you and brings you into the moment at hand.
Here are some tips that helped me enhance mindfulness during a yoga session:
Let go of any expectations.
When practicing yoga, I like to try new and challenging poses and look good while doing it. However, I’ve learned that if I want to bring mindfulness into my practice, I must let go of these expectations. I can’t go into a practice expecting to nail Tittibhasana (Firefly pose) or Ashtavakrasana (Eight Angle pose) on the first try—or even at all.
The more you are attached to the outcome, the more you are limiting yourself from getting there. So just let it go.
Become aware of your feelings throughout your practice.
While sometimes yoga can be a nice escape, it is important to tap into the feelings that arise. Sometimes emotions come up, like frustration, anger, or joy. When those feelings arise, it is best to feel them. Consider where they are coming from and allow them to be.
Our emotions are visitors to our bodies. Allow them in without any judgment and feel through them. This is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness and be fully present in your body and mind.
Use your breath.
Most yoga instructors will cue you to use your breath, but I use it for so much more than moving through the poses. Our breath is our life source. It does so much for us, yet we so often don’t even think about it.
I enjoy bringing my focus to my breath whenever possible, but especially on my mat. Whether transitioning from one pose to another or maintaining a pose, breathing is the perfect way to tune into your body and clear your mind.
I even enjoy counting my breath and matching my inhales to my exhales. It not only helps me settle into my asanas, but it also clears my mind of any distractions.
Rest when you need it.
One important lesson I’ve learned over my many years of yoga practice is that sometimes I can’t do it all.
There are times when my body is tired, and I need to rest or modify a pose and that’s alright. Being aware of my body and listening to what it is telling me is a key element in bringing mindfulness to my practice because it means that I am focused on the present moment and how my body feels. I enjoy lying on my cork yoga mat and not being distracted by the people or things going on around me.
Make time for a resting pose.
Most people end their practice in savasana and—I won’t lie—it’s one of my favorite parts of yoga.
However, for a long time, my mind would always wander during this pose. This is completely normal and happens to most people. However, I have learned that the more I let myself relax in my body, the more my mind relaxes as well.
I’ve always found it a bit odd when people leave before savasana.
In my opinion, leaving plenty of time for this final resting pose is one of the best ways to complete your practice and bring mindfulness in.
Allow yourself to just be. You aren’t expected to be doing anything in these few moments, so embrace it. Simply being in the moment enhances mindfulness and restores your body and mind.
There are several ways to enhance mindfulness during a yoga session.
Starting out, some tips may be a bit difficult to follow, but you too can create mindfulness moments in yoga with perseverance and practice.