In an age where more is better, slow is boring and novel is neat the need for Yoga is never more needed to restore our overworked minds and bodies. Many would argue we live in a fast, mindless, unlovely and disconnected World. Yoga traditionally has offered focus, grace and connection.
But … if our Yoga practice has been “infected” by the anxieties, superficiality and mindlessness of the age … what is to be done? When we leave our mat at the end of practice are we more or less at peace – have we greater or less awareness – are we more detached or more opinionated – more critical or less critical? Put simply true Yoga practice should NOT lead to an increase in attachment (Raga), aversion (Dvesha) and the creation of samsaras (habits or traits) – the purpose of our Yoga practice is to give us more freedom not less!!!
MINDLESSNESS PRECLUDES OUR EXPERIENCING OF OTHER THINGS AND IS IMPOVERISHING.
The application of the simple tools of mindfulness to our Yoga practice can do much to regenerate our practice and bring it back to a true spiritual practice.
Mindfulness, is a small subset of practices from Buddhism, which can be applied in everyday life. Mindfulness has been defined as “Paying attention on purpose to the present moment, without judgement”.
The Application of Mindfulness to Yoga
Attitude and Mindfulness
- Non judgemental/impartial witness
- Patience – letting things unfold
- “Beginner’s mind” – don’t let previous experiences cloud the present
- Trust and especially self trust
- Letting go of thoughts, feeling and situations
Use any simple seated asana to start your Yoga practice and aim to sit for 10 or 15 minutes.
- Scan body for physical sensations. Note posture.
- Scan for feelings and emotions that may arise.
- Watch and witness thoughts and thought patterns. Be attentive that you do not engage with thoughts – this will give them energy.
- Watch breath and attributes of breath.
Mindfulness can be applied to any Yoga practice – strong or gentle.
- INHALE when foot leaves floor and EXHALE when foot touches floor.
- Breath – inhale entering (deepening) in posture and exhale when coming out of posture.
- Watch for physical sensations of tension and relaxation in the body.
- Watch for the upwelling of emotions during practice, especially ANGER, IMPATIENCE and BOREDOM.
- It is said that the asana only really begins when we want to leave it. Stay a little longer if possible.
- When mind wanders from practice – REMEMBER YOURSELF – draw back and focus.
Always finish each Yoga session with a period of relaxation. Just lie and observe as when simply sitting to start the practice.