What is Mindfulness?
In its most fundamental understanding, Mindfulness brings awareness to your present attention on purpose and without judgment. Although it can be hard to do in modern times, Mindfulness could help us cope with daily pressures and reconnect with ourselves in the digital age. This way of living can help us be more aware of what’s happening at the moment by being consistent. This allows us to live in the present moment and accept what is happening.
Mindfulness has roots in East Asia and has been around for almost three thousand years. This practice has only recently been introduced to the West.
Research has shown that Mindfulness can positively affect the mind and body. These benefits include:
- Stress and anxiety can be relieved
- Pain relief
- Better general health
- Increased immunity
There are two main elements to Mindfulness. These are awareness and compassion. The first, awareness, has been mentioned. Awareness is not just about the present moment. It also includes our thoughts and reactions. The control of our reactions to situations can be reclaimed when we become aware of them. It is possible to be open-minded and not hold negative thoughts or judgments about our situations. This will allow us to begin to improve our relationships with our experiences.
You might, for example, be holding Warrior II (“Virabhadrasana II”). You might feel uncomfortable sensations in your arms after a while. These sensations might cause you to become frustrated, annoyed, or wish you could release your arms. These thoughts and judgments can quickly consume your entire practice and experience. You might notice a shift in your perspective if you can tune into the present moment. Perhaps you can bring your attention back to the breath or show kindness and compassion to yourself and your body.
How to include Mindfulness in your yoga practice
We now understand better and can incorporate mindful practices into our yoga practice. Mindfulness yoga, in its most basic form, is about being present and compassionate. It’s all about listening to your body. You can let go of judgment, focus on your body, and practice in a way that is right for you.
As yoga students, one of our most common mistakes is not listening to our teachers. Yes, the teacher is there for us to follow and to prevent unnecessary injuries. Only you can truly understand your body. Only you can feel how your body feels in each pose. Only you can tell what feels good and what doesn’t. You can practice mindfully to become more aware of when you might need to rest, try a new style of yoga, or adjust your alignment. Your ability to move mindfully increases as you get more familiar with your practice. You will find the right way to move. Asanas will adapt to your current needs. It’s truly amazing to feel so connected with your body and mind that you can adjust your movement, thinking and breathing in each moment.
Here are some ways to add more mindfulness moments into your practice.
You will find a comfortable space that is free of distractions.
You should create a space where you feel safe and secure. You should remove any distractions or items. You can cover your phone with a blanket if you don’t need it near you.
Feel what you are feeling
It is worth spending some time at the beginning of your practice to observe how you feel right now. You might be noticing thoughts, feelings, or sensations in your body. It is important to pay attention to any discomforts or pains in your body during your practice.
Be free from any expectations.
You can be fully present by letting go of any expectations and agendas for your practice. This allows us to allow our practice to unfold as it should. If you don’t reach the desired place, it can be a sign that you have set unrealistic expectations.
It would help if you focused on your practice, not the others.
When practising in a class, focusing on the people around us can be difficult. This is especially true when advanced students are involved in their practice. However, this does not mean that you should abandon your practice. It is important to be present in your body and mind, no matter the world around you.
Pay attention to how you feel throughout the day.
You can take time to observe when your emotions are taking over during your practice. As you can see in the Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) example, frustration or anger can overtake you because your arms are aching. Your feelings can trigger these negative emotions, and you should instead tap into your experience and breathe.
It’s okay to modify or restrain.
As a teacher, students must be able to take breaks and modify their practice as needed. It can be very beneficial to push mentally and physically, but there may be times when rest is necessary. Rest can look different for each person. It might be as simple as a child’s position, knees to chest, or lying down in a corpse posture. If you feel the need for rest, it is important to take the time to understand exactly what kind of rest you are looking for.
Don’t skip relaxation.
The time spent in savasana is an important part of any yoga practice. You might feel like you have to do something else during your practice or don’t have the time. It is important to allow your body and mind to relax completely. This allows us to tap into our practice and reap the benefits. It also sets the tone for our experience off the mat.
Benefits of mindful yoga
Awareness is the most fundamental element of mindful living. Yoga can help us become more aware of ourselves on and off the mat. When you pay attention to your body and mind, you’ll start to notice the moments in your practice. You can adjust your practice to suit your own needs right now by practising self-awareness.
Your relationship with yourself will be strengthened.
Mindfulness yoga helps us connect with ourselves on a deeper level. It helps us be more conscious of our feelings and needs and practice loving kindness. We can show compassion and kindness by adapting our practice to reflect our feelings. This can help you have a closer relationship with yourself on and off the yoga mat. Yoga is a wonderful practice that allows us to modify at any stage and pose based on our current state.
It will become a way to live.
As we practice Mindfulness on the mat, we’ll notice how it ripples into our everyday lives. You may notice that little things that used to frustrate you no more bother you. You might be experiencing stress at work. However, you may find that if you take a moment to pay attention to your breath, you can find a moment to calm down. It is easier to be mindful of the sensations we feel on the mat when we become familiar with them.