Calming the Mind in Asana Practice

Calming the Mind in Asana Practice

At the beginning of an asana practice, it’s nice to draw your awareness inward, focusing on the body and the breath for a few moments. This calm focus is an essential part of yoga. Once we’re practicing the asanas, however, it’s common for the mind to wander. It’s not that we necessarily start thinking about other things on purpose, but the mind wanders nonetheless.

We need to make an effort to keep the mind centered on what we’re doing as we practice, otherwise  the mind will jump from here to there like a monkey and we won’t get as much out of our asanas as we might have.

If you’re practicing with a video or in class, try to keep your mind on what the teacher is saying and how you are translating those instructions to your body. Be aware of the sensations you feel with each move and each breath. There’s a lot to notice if you tune in. In class, try not to get distracted by the other people in the room; keep your inward focus.

If you’re practicing at home by yourself, the distractions are different. At home we’re reminded of things to be done: cleaning the house, working in the yard, laundry, dinner, or errands that need to be run. So the first thing is to commit to just doing yoga, knowing you’ll get to the other tasks later. If you start thinking about your to-do list as you practice, bring the mind back to the asana, the breath, your intention to just do yoga. By focusing on each step of the pose, the sensations in your body and how the breath affects each pose, your mind will calm down. You’ll be able to really tune in to what your body needs and how the asanas affect you. This information is invaluable for helping you develop a home practice that is right for you.

Balancing poses like this week’s asana, Wide Arrow, are helpful for calming the mind because you have to focus to be able to stay balanced. Yoga Sound Meditation is also very useful in learning to calm the mind. My Easy Meditation for Everyone Kit will help you do this, while offering you spiritual happiness and fulfillment. You can see a sample of it here:

So be determined to avoid the distractions of the mind—which can be very persistent—and practice often. After all, practice makes perfect.

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