What’s the most difficult thing about yoga?
This is a question that a teacher asked during a class I was in few days ago. Almost everyone gave answers relating to the busyness of the mind and how it stands in the way of their yoga experience.
“I always compare myself to the super bendy people in the front row“ “I’m keep thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner” “I’m always worried I’m not doing it right” “I get distracted by what’s happening out the window”.
If these sound familiar, then know that you’re not alone. The busy and easily distracted mind is something we all experience, no matter what level of yogi we are (teachers included!).
While it’s nice to think that the simple act of buying a yoga mat instantly makes you immune to the noise of the mind, the truth is, a yoga class is one of the places where the busy mind gets highlighted most. Thankfully though, it’s the best place to work on it…
So here are 5 practical tips you can take to your next class to help you stay present and get the most out of your yoga experience!
1. Close Your Eyes
One of the worst things we can do for our yoga is to compare ourselves with others in the room. Remember that yoga is personal. It’s a chance to work on your self, and so it’s irrelevant what your neighbour or the uber flexi people in the front row are doing. If you find your eyes wandering around a lot during class (which is oh so tempting...) then simply close them.
Closing the eyes not only shuts out everyone else, it allows you to tune deeply into the flow of your breath and the position of your body at that moment. On your mat.
2. Get Visual During Shavasana
I heard someone say the other day that yoga is not always rainbows, butterflies and unicorns. Man, how right he was! Yoga can be very blissful but it also has the ability to shift and move energy and emotions that can rev the mind up and create a less-than-relaxing Shavasana.
If this happens then you can try adopting a visual approach during relaxation. With your eyes closed, try taking your awareness to your navel and get an image of a yellow lotus flower sitting there. With each inhale the flower rises and with each exhale it falls and after just a few breaths you should experience a much deeper (and quieter!) Shavasana.
This is the most simple and effective way of coming back to the present moment during class. Focus on your breath. As the breath is constant, it is available to you any time you need to focus and come back to the now.
You have a teacher for a reason! They are not just at the front of the class shouting out names of postures for you to strike, they are there to guide and lead you through an experience of yoga. If you get distracted by thoughts of dinner, tune in to your teachers voice and listen to them. Not only will this help you ignore the internal chatter, it’s highly likely you’ll pick up some awesome alignment cues that can really transform your experience of a posture.
The wise words of my wonderful yoga teacher and the best advice I’ve ever been given. Yoga is a journey, in fact it’s your journey and learning to be relaxed with yourself will make the whole experience much more enjoyable. Don’t be in a rush to reach something or be somewhere with your yoga. Stay present to what you are actually experiencing in each moment on the mat – and just let it be.
I hope these make a difference to your yoga this week. If you have any of your own tips you would like to share please comment below so we can all benefit!