The Very Challenging Practice of Managing Your Mind on the Mat

By March 5, 2016 May 9th, 2016 Yoga

Can you relate to this? You’re in the middle of your practice. You feel strong and confident in your postures. Your feet are grounded into the mat. Your eyes are steady, focused. You’re breathing. You are following the instructor and moving with the class. Yet, something is keeping you from being fully present. Thoughts seem to continually spring into the mind. Am I doing this right? Is everyone looking at me? Why don’t they have music playing in this class? I should stop by the grocery store when I leave here. What should I have for dinner? And so on… Often, this is the most challenging part of our practice.

The mind likes to play. It wanders and wonders – comparing, contrasting, analyzing, imagining… This vital aspect of authentic Yoga is often lost in today’s popular “Yoga” practices. More than a physical practice, Authentic Yoga requires you to not only practice stretching and strengthening the body but also to do the same with the mind. Rather than the automatic zoning out that is typical in many forms of exercise and often times what is falsely called Yoga, the practice involves proactively monitoring the mind as well as the body and breath. It requires focus, awareness, attention. It’s not an easy practice this mental focus, but it is a PRACTICE. When you are willing to include this other very important part of who you are in your practice, the benefits of Yoga become exponentially realized.

So, if you are ready to take your practice to the next level, note that the rules are simple in idea and challenging in practice. When you notice anything that is coming up in the mind that is outside of exactly what the teacher is directing, be careful to not label it as bad. Instead of passing judgement, be clear that that these distractions are opportunities to stretch and strengthen the mind. To stretch and strengthen the mind is to bring the mind back to reciting the forms or other directions given when a distraction arises. Just as the body needs to be stretched and strengthened, so does the mind. Bring the mind along with you in your practice and notice how you move towards the next level of transformation with your Yoga.


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