Let’s clear something up.. Having a wandering mind during your practice is completely normal. C’mon we’re only human and we all naturally have a very active mind. So to have a completely silent mind during your practice, especially when you’re moving from one pose to another, is quite impossible.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, we wanted to share with you our fave tip that will teach you how to achieve a “calm” mind during your practice.
“Switching off” in yoga is one of the hardest challenges of the practice. It’s not uncommon for people to feel disheartened when they’re unable to stop the thoughts flying into their heads. They are quick to assume yoga simply isn’t for them. However, let’s put this in perspective…
Even if you were a Buddhist monk sitting on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, a mind with no thoughts would be highly unattainable! It’s important to remember that thoughts are going to pop up whether we like it or not, and this is okay.
Here is the good news! You don’t necessarily need to have a quiet mind immediately during your yoga practice! The truth is, the more you practice, the more you will develop the skill of learning how to quiet your mind, and experience the calm that lies underneath our busy minds.
It’s important to understand that the goal of your practice is not to have a mind completely free of thoughts (we can hear the sighs of relief already), but rather finding the space in between your thoughts.
When you are in this space, you are connecting with your calm and in turn becoming more skilled in the practice. Over time, this will help you to develop a relationship with your true self aka the “calm” you.
So what is the process of quieting a busy mind?
Focus on your breath. As you flow through your practice and a thought starts to creep in, follow your breath in and then follow it out, directing all of your attention on each breath.
As your thoughts come in (and they will), notice them and remember that you don’t need to ‘engage’ with them. Just as if you were in a café and you can hear people next to you in conversation, you are aware of it but you do not need to engage with it.
Each time you are “distracted” by a thought, simply come back to your breath and start again.
How do you apply this during your class?
Staying focused on your breath will consciously connect your mind and your breathing to your body and the movements.
Being aware of your breath gives your mind a task to focus on, as opposed to drifting off into random dialogue. This allows you to become a part of the present moment which is what your practice is all about.
On the days that you find yourself in class with a super busy mind and you find it’s easier to get distracted, rather than getting cross with yourself, just keep lovingly applying the discipline of bringing yourself back to your breath to help find your inner calm.
It is never about being perfect, and it is never about being right. Some days are going to be better than others, so it’s important to remember that the space in between your thoughts is the space where we find our calm, our inner peace and ultimately the bridge to our truest and most authentic self.
We hope this tip will help you the next time you’re in Downward Dog and thinking about what outfit to wear this weekend.
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