It’s a symptom of our society they say. A constant bombardment of information – phones, emails, whatsapps, instant messages and the rest. Balancing a career, a family, a social life and your health and of course beauty (on the outside and within, ahem) and the many hats we all have to don to simply exist and get through the day. The frameworks and habits we have created to sustain this level of existence. But how about living life? Does it ever all feel a bit empty somehow? Do you ever notice yourself simply ‘going through the motions’? Do you ever get in your car and get to your destination without the foggiest idea of how you got there?
So you might have heard of this little hot topic – mindfulness. It’s ancient technique with origins in Buddhist philosophy – and according to Buddha, is an antidote to delusion. In very simple terms, mindfulness is about waking up, connecting with ourselves, and appreciating the fullness of each moment of life. So how can we apply it to yoga?
As the way we practise yoga is a huge reflection of how we live our lives… As an example, do you come and attack the asanas just wanting it al to be over and thinking about the million other things you need to achieve today? Or do you find yourself wafting around in some free-flow without much thought at all? Here’s how to be more present in your practice.
Take the time before your class begins – even a few minutes, to arrive. Really arrive in the room. Feel the ground beneath your feet and how your feet connect you. Feel the sensations through your feet and spend time just standing, finding your balance and being. Nothing more.
Yes yes, we’ve said it before. But take the time to notice the rise and fall of your belly during the inhalations and exhalations. See if you can feel your diaphragm expanding and contracting like a parachute as you take each breath.
Don’t over-think it
If you find your mind has wandered to what you are going to have for dinner, acknowledge the thought and move on. So your thoughts are seen as clouds floating across the sky or leaves down a river. They are worthy of your acknowledgement, but that’s it. Bring yourself back to where you are now.
Notice your body
In each pose, notice what feels strong in your body. Or what feels tight. Both the positive and negative are worthy of your attention. Try to sense where each pose is coming from in your body and which muscles are being engaged during the pose. How do your organs feel? How is your body temperature? What are the sensations on your skin? All these enquiries are mindful.
We all have a battle with the ego – to get further info that posture, to hold it for longer. But letting go of that goal can often be the key to finding yourself in a new place. More open and spacious. Accept what your body can do right now – not what you hope it can do tomorrow – or what it could do yesterday.
Count your blessings
That you have a body to practice with. A space and time in your life to practice in. Just the feeling of acknowledging all that is good in your life can enhance your sense of wellbeing incredibly.