4 tips to integrate Mindfulness into your Yoga
For many, the hardest part of meditation is finding the time to sit down in a quiet space and clear your mind of thoughts. Most people simply cannot achieve this level of peace in their daily schedule. The beauty of mindfulness is that you can integrate it into any aspect of your life; your Yoga practice for example. Here are four simple tips on how to do this.
“When we are being mindful, we are choosing to notice the details of our experiences, just as they are in this moment and without judging or trying to change them”
- Sarah Silverton
1. Alternate nostril breathing
This short exercise helps to settle the mind and aid a Mindful practice. It can also be used to calm your nerves and help manage stress and anxiety. Before you begin your asana practice sit cross-legged on the floor with your back straight (or in Lotus position if you prefer) Using the thumb of your right hand close off your right nostril and breathe in through the left, then using your ring finger and little finger of the same hand close off the left nostril and breathe out through the right. Breathe in through the right, then out through the left, in through the left, and out through the right, and repeat for two to five minutes. Be mindful of your breath, notice the air travel down into your lungs and back out again, notice the way you breathe; is your breath long or short, deep or shallow? Shortly after you complete the exercise you should become aware of your mind settling and a sense of calm.
2. Your minds attention
As you come to stand to begin your practice think about where your minds attention is. Focus on your feet (the earth element); notice how they feel on your mat. Be aware of the distribution of weight and which parts of your feet are touching the mat. As you begin your practice be aware of each movement as it happens. Try not to think about the next posture, or what the person next to you looks like, remember both mindfulness and yoga are non-judgemental practices.
3. Let go of your thoughts
Inevitably your mind will wander. Thinking about breakfast or whether you remembered to feed the cat? This is not a failure, be aware of your thoughts then let them drift away as you gently bring your attention back to the earth element.
Most Yoga classes end with a period of relaxation, but most self-practices don’t. If you can, take a short period of relaxation after your practice, lie back and treat yourself to a mini body scan. Starting at your feet, take your mind through your body. Be aware of the sensations in each part of your body as you work your way up; are you hot or cold? Where are you holding your tension? Be inquisitive and wiggle your fingers and toes, smile and frown and feel your lungs fill with air.
Jessica is one of our guest bloggers. She is a student of mindfulness and yoga based in South Warwickshire, England. After graduating in 2011 Jessica embarked on a journey to the rural Cotswolds and set up her business SoulStream Arts, running courses in Yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and confidence building. She believes that multi-disciplinary study is the key to a well-rounded and happy lifestyle and that by integrating practices such as mindfulness into everyday life we are able to maximise our energy levels, efficiency, and love of life.
As well as Yoga and mindfulness, Jessica is also a runner, completing six half marathons in 2013 and is currently raising money for charity and training for the London Marathon in 2014. She is a keen gardener, beekeeper and cook, using homegrown, local, and organic produce to create recipes for both herself and her business.