So you decide to make it to yoga, but feel like you can’t focus with the amount of random things you’re thinking about.
Been there. Done that. It’s completely normal. Our minds think an average of 3,300 thoughts an hour. That’s a lot of thoughts, which can drive you nuts if you don’t know how to handle it.
You can think of your mind as a lake. When it’s busy with thoughts it has all these boats passing through creating choppy waters. Less thoughts means less boats, which makes for a calmer lake.
My aim – a lake, no ripples.
In one of the oldest yoga texts, The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali he says “yoga chitta vritti nirodha,” which means “yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” In other words, the practice of yoga is meant to clear the mind. Yet BKS Iyengar believed that “the brain is the hardest part of the body to adjust in the asanas.”
So what do you do when you’re on your mat thinking about what you should have said to that guy who annoyed you, what you want to eat for dinner, or how distracting that bendy girl is right next to you?
I got you covered with these tools that can help:
1. Ujayi breath –if you can control your breath then you can control your mind. Utilizing this breathing technique during your practice can help keep your focus.
Ujayi which means “victorious” in Sanskrit, is a rhythmic inhale and exhale through the nose that creates a hissing or “ha” sound that comes from a slight constriction at the back of the throat. I like to think of it as the sound of waves coming in and out of the shore.
Anytime you get distracted, bring your focus back to the sound of your breath. Follow each inhale and exhale in and out of the body, and work towards having an equal duration of both the inhale & exhale.
2. Dristhi – is a specific focal point to keep your gaze on.
Certain styles of yoga like Ashtanga will have specific drishti points for each pose. When in doubt look straight ahead, at a non-moving object in front of you.
Where your eyes go, your mind wanders. So this is another tool to keep the focus inward – this way you avoid getting distracted by the people around you.
If you’re newer to yoga I get that you need to see what the pose looks like. Instead, try your best to listen to the verbal cues of your teacher. It helps to read up on the names and alignment of the basic poses when you’re not in class.
Practicing drishti is a great to gain focus, especially helpful when you’re upside down or in balancing poses.
3. Regular Meditation – Meditating regularly can help you find so much focus not only in your yoga practice, but everything you do.
Lake no ripples sound good to you? This is your answer.
If you’re new to meditation you can start with conscious ujayi breathing while sitting in a comfortable position every morning and night for at least 15 minutes.
If you need to, set an alarm. Keep still, follow your breath with your eyes closed until the alarm goes off.
It might take some getting used to, but like all good things you need to put in some effort to experience it’s benefits.
Getting in this groove can do wonders to help calm the mind – which will help you during the day, night, and on the yoga mat.
There you go, my 3 top tips to calm that lake of yours.
I’d love to hear about what works for you. What are your tried and tested ways of staying focused on and off the mat?
What distracts you the most?
Leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!