How does yoga encourage mindfulness? When you go to a yoga class and start centering yourself, this is the time to reset the mind. This is your hour to allow yourself to let go of your to-do lists, your past regrets or future worries. This is the time to be in the present moment, as this is the only relevant moment. There is nothing you can do about the past. And worrying about the future won't change things either. It takes practice, as I often find I clear my mind, allowing for new exciting thoughts during yoga or meditation. But it's best to just clear the mind, no matter how great those thought seem to be.
In yoga, focusing on the breath can calm the mind. That's easier said than done too. As they teach in Vipassana meditation, you focus on the rising (as you inhale) and falling (as you exhale) of the abdomen. Or you can focus on the feeling of air through your throat. Or focus on the sound you make when exhaling through the nose.
In doing the yoga poses, another way to concentrate is to focus on one object, such as an object in front of you (e.g. your hands, your feet, tip of your nose) which is referred as Drishti. This is a gazing technique that is meant to improve concentration. This is very effective when standing in Tree (Vrkasana) pose. If you focus on one point, you are less likely to fall over. You will notice that when you start thinking of many things in tree, you will fall over. Concentrating on one object will help clear your mind as you are concentrating on only one thing - it feels strange at first but definitely the first steps to developing mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? It is appreciating the present and acceptance for how things objectively are. What are benefits to mindfulness? There have been many legitimate studies done which show that it can reduce stress proven by lower blood pressure or digestive disorders. It can reduce anxiety and depression on all levels. But it takes practice. I am looking in the mirror now and saying that after this email, I am going to spend the next 5 minutes being mindful as I did fly off the handle last week when Max dragged a chair across our new wooden floor. Would the Dalai Lama have yelled at his kid for that?
Article on mindfulness: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-mindfulness-good-medicine/
Tim & Shannon: Part time yoga teachers from Cookham, Berkshire. We thought it would be fun to share our learning experiences with like minded people.