Tips for a Mindful Practice | iHanuman


Love, Service, Devotion, Yoga

Tips for a Mindful Practice

Stepping on to your mat for the first time can be a daunting experience. The excitement of trying something new, moving your body in ways you've never imagined, and stretching your limits can be exhilarating, if not overwhelming. The same can be said for more practiced students, who with time and experience may feel ready to push beyond their limits, but end up feeling frustrated when they cannot "go beyond."  That being said, whether you're brand new or you've been practicing for many years now, following are a few tips to keep in mind whenever you come to your mat.
1) It's not a competition: So, you find yourself mat to mat with someone who can fly up into a handstand at the drop of the hat or put their leg in some place that it definitely should not be and start to think "wow, I'll never be able to do that."
So? Although we come together in class, our practice is ultimately personal. Instead of thinking how you're not able to do something, be grateful for what you can do and work to cultivate your sadhana (personal practice). Once you let go of the pre-conceived notion of what practice "should" look like, you'll get much more out of each session. Follow your prana, tap into your breath and let the practice happen naturally.
2) Let go of Ego: I see too much of this in my classes and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to let go of your Ego. There's just not room for it in Yoga. In fact, the more you practice the more you'll see how much we let our egos get the best of us, ultimately holding us back from becoming better, shinier versions of ourselves. Tell your ego to take a hike and connect to your higher Self.
3) Have Fun:  Stop taking yourself so seriously and start having a little fun. If you're grimacing in pain and watching the clock, you're probably not staying present and therefore missing the point of class. Relax, release and stop worrying about what's coming next and enjoy the moment.
3) Sthira Sukham Asanam (YS II.46): Translated, this sutra means that "our connection to the earth should be steady and joyful." Nowhere in that does it say a painful, agonizing, stretching of my body that keeps me from walking the next day!
If you find yourself in a difficult posture, stop and ask yourself "am I pushing too hard," "is my body ready for this today?," "can I modify somehow to make this pose more accessible." There's nothing wrong with backing off, in fact, sometimes taking a step back can help you see more clearly what is really going on, thus deepening your awareness of body, mind and spirit.
As your practice develops you'll start to see how these ideas carry you through your practice and off your mat.  Learning to let go of pre-conceived notions, finding effort and ease in each moment, and simply being, rather than doing, and dare I say--having a little fun, will help to cultivate a feeling of lightness and happiness in all that you do.
In what ways do you stay mindful during practice?


Receive a Heartfelt, Inspired Newsletter with Special Features, Seasonal Updates, and Coupon Codes for Use with Our Yoga Downloads.