Are You Practicing Yoga Mindfully?
We all know that yoga can have a positive impact on our mental and physical health. While yoga isn’t one of those things where there’s a right or wrong answer, learning to practice yoga mindfully can help you reach a new depth of understanding in your practice. If you’re anything like me, you may be able to relate to the difference in going through the motions in a yoga class compared to mindfully practicing yoga.
Let’s take a look at the difference and how you can be more mindful in your yoga practice moving forward.
Your Yoga Environment
Everyone is different and that means not every yoga environment will work for you. For example, I used to love going to yoga class at the gym. That was until I bought a 10-class pack for a yoga studio. As expected, there was a vast difference between the two experiences. Entering a space that is purely dedicated to yoga practice felt instantly calming to me.
Not only did I feel like I got more out of the yoga class, but I found the different varieties of yoga offered at the studio provided a perfect range of difficulty and intensity. From the Monday insanity that was advanced hot Hatha yoga to Yin yoga on a Sunday, I finally started listening to my body in yoga. I don’t know if it was the calm that came with trying a dedicated yoga studio or finally putting my ego aside and listening to the options my body wanted (instead of trying to do the hardest option for everything), but I felt like I started to fully understand the practice of yoga.
If you’re currently practicing yoga and you don’t feel like you’re progressing, try changing your environment. Whether it’s trying a new studio or starting your morning with a short sun salutation, switching up your environment could help you to be more mindful in your yoga practice. Remember, like any subject, we all resonate with different teachers and personalities. So, if you feel like you need to try a new teacher to hear a different perspective that could help too. The important thing to remember is if you have questions and you’re feeling blocked and frustrated with your practice, to ask for help from a trained professional. They will have the knowledge and perspective that you need.
Remembering this is Your Practice
Remembering that a yoga class is a personal experience felt like my lightbulb moment with yoga. For years I’d been caught up with pleasing my ego by blindly doing the hardest option for every yoga pose — the complete opposite of what a mindful yoga practice is all about!
It wasn’t until I changed to classes at a dedicated yoga studio and started listening to my body that I become more mindful of what constitutes an effective yoga practice. This could be different for everyone but signing up for a mix of advanced and beginner classes helped me to get the intense workouts I crave while learning how to properly practice each pose.
If, like me, you’ve found yourself practicing yoga from a place of constantly trying to please your ego, set an intention for your next yoga class that you’ll properly tune in with your body. Before class starts, take 5 minutes to stretch and relax on your mat noticing what parts of your mind and body feel great and what parts need some attention. At the end of the class in relaxation, note how your body is feeling after your yoga practice.
Finally, take that calm and grounding feeling from your practice and make an effort to bring that with you throughout the rest of your day. This is especially helpful if your body is healing from an illness or injury or if you’re working on living more mindfully. Next time you find yourself rushing through poses in yoga or letting your mind get caught up in your never-ending to-do list, take a moment to be present in your body. Ask yourself, are there any particular areas of your body that are sore or tight? Is your mind racing at 1,000 thoughts a minute? To get present, actively breathe into the movements and poses you are performing so you can feel your mind and body connect.
This is what will help you practice yoga mindfully — finding an environment that works for you, being present and understanding exactly how your body is feeling.
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