A yoga class is the place you go to get centered, right? Right...
One of the many benefits of yoga, and a favorite of many, is how it leaves you after practicing: grounded, energized, centered and vibrating.
That feeling is often way better when we practice in a group setting, in a studio, because we get to share that energy with others during the whole class. It builds up and you leave feeling a true sense of calm.
But sometimes, it doesn't go that way. Some days, our minds seam to never slow down.
Omg, I feel disgustingly sweaty. The teacher forgot to do the pose on the other side... How long do we have to stay in that pose, my muscles are burning! Look at her, she's much more flexible than I am, why can't my palms be flat on the floor. Uhhh cut down the Savasana, I have a miles-long to-do list!
If even a yoga class can't quiet your mind, nothing will right?
Well, there are ways to slow down our mind hamster. And don't feel bad, it's the hardest part of yoga. It's way harder to quiet our mind than to do the asanas.
Calm your inner hamster down, girl.
You heard this one before didn't you? That's because it's really the most effective way to bring you down to your body.
Take long and deep breath. Feel the air coming in from your nostrils, passing through your lungs and descending towards your sacrum. Be aware of the warth of the air, of its smell.
You can even try to breathe into the pose. Wherever you feel tense or contracting during an asana, breathe deeply and imagine you breathe into that area. What it will do is soften what is tensed and help quiet your mind.
Muscle burn, shaking and stretch are expected in a yoga class.
But when your mind can't seem to calm down, don't try so hard. Don't try to exert your body, but bring it down a notch instead. If your mind is going one way, don't do the same with your body, go the opposite direction. Chill out. Take child pose. Take the first variation the teacher gives, not necessarily that second or third. Don't. push. so. hard.
What might then happen is a sense of softening, in your body and in your mind.
You probably heard this one before too. We say it a lot during meditation or savasana. When your hamster is spinning full speed, you might want to turn your gaze inwards during the asanas.
If you are in a posture that allows it, close your eyes. Feel the posture from inside your body. Turn your vision from the outside, to the inside.
If you can't close your eyes, try to bring your focus on the energy of the pose. For example, in Warrior 2, feel your energy stretching from your heart to the very tips of your fingers. Feel both your feet grounded deeply, your legs energy going towards the earth, to allow your spine's to spiral towards the sky.
If you try to focus on the energetic feeling of a posture, that will take your mind off the comparison game that can happen sometimes.
And remember, as we said above, quieting your mind is the hardest (but best) part of yoga. It takes practice, and a lot of it. Some days will be better than others and that's totally normal. Your focus will only improve with time!
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