Staying focused and mindful during yoga can greatly improve your practice. Being in the now allows you to stay balanced, go deeper, and fully integrate your practice. When you’re present in each moment of your life, you live life fully and experience the richness of it; but that’s not always easy to do in our busy lives.
How often are you practicing yoga, only to think about your job or what to cook for dinner? And when you get to your job, the mind often jumps back to yoga, a past event or to something that may or may not happen in the future. This is how we miss out on the little moments of inner harmony, peace and relaxation. So, how can we change this habit and be more present?
Here are 6 ways to enhance your focus during yoga. Start by practicing on your mat and then notice how you can eventually take this practice to your life off the mat.
Be sure to set an intention at the beginning of class. Choose a word, affirmation, mantra, dedication or prayer that inspires you. Throughout your practice, remember your intention and silently repeat it to yourself. This will take you back to the present moment.
Ground down through whichever part of your body touches the floor. For example, imagine yourself growing roots through the sole of your foot, as you lift up into tree pose. At the same time, lengthen the top of the head up to the sky. Find your inner center.
Let go of competing and judging yourself or others. Instead of looking around to see how your fellow yogis are executing a posture, take your awareness back to yourself. Listen to your body as you gently guide it into the pose. Everybody is different and it’s important to find your modification of the asana. Stay true to yourself.
You’ve likely heard your yoga instructor talk about the importance of breathing during yoga. Indeed, the breath acts as an amazing indicator, anchor and mindfulness tool in your practice. So, next time you notice that your mind is active or the pose is getting more challenging, come back to your breath. Lengthen your inhales and exhales, and silently repeat: “I am breathing in,” and “I am breathing out.”
Whenever the poses allow, go ahead and close your eyes. Feel the sensation you are creating in your body, notice the quality of your mind and the soothing rhythm of your breath. With your eyes closed, center in on where you may be holding tension and where you can soften a little more.
Find a spot on your yoga mat or in front of you that’s not moving, and maybe even inspiring. It may be a Buddha statue, your mala next to the mat, an Om symbol or just the floor. Begin to soften your gaze on that spot and keep it there as you hold in your yoga posture. Finding your drishti is especially beneficial in all standing and balancing poses.
photo credit: Dmitry Kotov