Each experience on your yoga mat is unique. What happened before you arrived at your mat, the current state of your emotions, what’s happening in your personal life, incidents at home or at work, what’s happening on your calendar for the rest of the day/week/month/year, not to mention the expectations you bring with you to the mat, can all profoundly affect your practice.
When your mind leaves your mat and starts running through countless random thoughts and endless “To Do” checklists – often referred to in Yogic terms as “monkey mind” – poses will oftentimes feel a lot more challenging as you get distracted, lose focus and maybe even let negative emotions arise. In short you may forget why you even wanted to do yoga in the first place.
If you’ve been having a tough time relaxing and letting go during yoga, you may find the following tips useful to still your “monkey mind” (AKA racing thoughts) and get your practice back on track.
Focus on your breath: When your mind starts to wander, try bringing all your awareness to your breath. Making your breath audible, also helps fix your attention. Focusing on lengthening your inhalations and exhalations keeps you engaged, while instantly helping you relax and calm your mind.
Make “Me” time a priority: For many people, yoga is the first time in any given day where their own health and happiness takes centre stage. All your obligations (people, calls, endless emails, Whatsapp messages, and the like) will still be waiting for you once your yoga session is over. So take advantage of your yoga time to be a little “selfish” with your thoughts. When you give your undivided attention on the mat, time seems to fly by, and you come back feeling refreshed, invigorated and better able to deal with life’s many challenges.
Use Child pose as a physical and mental time-out: When all else fails, drop your knees, pushing back into Child pose (Balasana), and take some deep recovery breaths. Giving yourself the opportunity to take a moment to regroup and relax doesn’t mean you’re giving up during your class. Instead of over-thinking what you and maybe everyone else is doing, Child pose allows you the opportunity to turn inward when YOU need it most to connect with your body, and maybe more importantly, your mind. When you are ready, you can continue on with your practice feeling re-connected and re-committed.
Cut yourself some slack: Every day brings new challenges. Some days will be good and your practice will seem to flow with effortless harmony. On other days your practice expectations may just not be met, you may feel out of sync, and possibly even disheartened. Stop being hard on yourself! Remember your body is different from day to day – rather focus on working with what your body and mind presents you with each time you’re on the mat – let go of judgement, and simply go with the flow.
The mere fact that you are showing up to yoga to try and connect with yourself (body and mind) is already a step in the right direction.
That’s it for now – see you all for playtime on the mat😉
Till next time – Keep it Light😘