Mindfulness is the practice of training the mind to stay in the present moment via self observation, without judgement. It’s ideal to practice a formal meditation every morning for at least 20 mins, but also incorporating mindfulness into your daily life in everything that you do is very helpful in keeping your mind in the present moment. It is when we are wandering away from the present moment thinking about thoughts or events from the past or the future that we tend to create emotional and physical stress in the body. Therefore if we can practice mindfulness, or keeping our minds focused in the present moment, we tend to feel more relaxed and stress free more of the time, even when we are not meditating.
Incorporating mindfulness practice into your yoga class is an easy way to add more mindfulness into your daily life. Your yoga teacher guides you through mindfulness of the breath and body all the way through your ‘moving meditation’ yoga class, so make sure you listen to your teacher’s guidance in focusing on your breath in sync with the movement of your body. This can take some practice, particularly if you are a little stressed at the time, but each time you notice your mind wandering off, just gently bring your mind back to your yoga practice, focusing your full attention on the yoga poses, how your body feels, and the inhales and exhales that go with each movement.
You can also integrate your own ‘still’ or formal mindfulness meditation time before and after your daily practice by:
- Arriving on your mat at least 15 minutes before class starts
- Begin by becoming aware of your breath. Is it fast and shallow, or is it deep and slow?
- Then begin to scan the the body for how it feels, from head to toe. Notice any aches or pains without judgement, or perhaps notice where your body feels good or is pain free!
- As you observe both the breath and the body, just acknowledge thoughts as they pop into your mind without judgement, and practice detaching from them, letting them go and coming back to your point of focus eg. the breath, or the body.
- At the end of your yoga practice stay in ‘savasana’ for 10 – 15 minutes and repeat mindfulness of the breath and the body.