4 Ways to Quiet Your Mind during Yoga
4 Ways to Quiet Your Mind during Yoga
International Yoga Day is here! Get ready to roll out your Yoga mat and work your way into your favorite pose.
Really, though, there’s no bad time for Yoga. There are a list of health benefits that have shown this ancient practice can help you lower stress levels, release tension, sleep better, improve flexibility and increase muscle strength.
But Yoga doesn't always feel relaxing and restful. Our days can be hectic, leaving us overwhelmed and stressed out. When it’s time to get down and start practicing, our minds are busy, chattering away and thinking about everything but doing Yoga. If you find this happening to you, don’t worry. It’s a common issue for Yogis of all skill levels. And that’s exactly why we wanted to share a few tips to quiet your mind and allow you to stay focused on your practice.
<h2> Put the Phone Down
It’s difficult. But trust us, it can be done! Many of us have the urge to consistently check our phones and see what’s going on in the world and in our social circles. But when you’re getting ready to practice Yoga, you need both physical and mental space to make the most out of the practice.
In order to do that, you can’t be continually anxious or worried about getting a text or a push notification. And you definitely don’t want to be scrolling through your Instagram feed while performing a Warrior II. Make this time your own and turn your phone over, place it on silent or even put it in the next room if that helps. Because the more you get distracted, the less relaxed you’re going to feel.
Yoga is your window of time to take care of yourself and stay connected with your mind and body. Anything that takes you away from that is only harming your practice.
<h2>Focus on Your Breath
Ahhh the breath. It’s always there for us. Guiding us, keeping us grounded. That’s why it’s a great anchor to return to whenever we find ourselves distracted while doing Yoga.
If you find your mind wandering and thinking about work, your grocery list, that TV episode you saw last night or “ohmygosh did I forget to wish Linda a Happy Birthday on Facebook?!?!” — just bring your attention back to your breath.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Count that as one. Try and go to 10. Then start all over back at one. If you lose your focus and don’t get to 10, NO WORRIES. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s completely natural. There are going to be days when it’s tough to get to two.
That’s because our minds are busy. They’re continually playing random moments from our days and predictions of the future, that’s what they do. You can’t silence your thoughts, so don’t even try, but you can ignore them as much as you can. If you start becoming frustrated with your inability to focus, be gentle to yourself. Simply say, “thanks, brain, I’ll get back to that thought later!” and as smoothly as you can, transition back to your breath. Continually bringing your attention to the present will help you stay grounded, helping to give you a sense of calmness.
<h2> Focus On Your Body
If you’re finding that focusing on your breath isn’t quite working, try focusing on your body. One way to do that is to keep your mind on the area of your body that you’re stretching. If you’re in a downward dog, do a check in. Are your shoulders tight? Can you feel them loosening up? Is there pain anywhere (if there is, you’re stretching too far)? Are your legs shaking or are they feeling relaxed? Whatever is drawing your attention, stick with it as much as you can. And just like with your breath, if you find your attention wandering off, gently bring it right back.
<h2> Close Your Eyes
This last tip may sound a bit intimidating, but you don’t have to be an expert Yogi to keep your eyes closed for many poses.
Having your eyes closed helps you focus more on yourself and not everything in your surroundings. If you’re practicing at home, this can prevent you from continually checking the time or just looking at random objects in the room that could distract you (“hey, I forgot I owned that book! I should give that a read. Why did we paint the walls this color?”). This is your time and you want to maximize it by removing any form of distractions. Simply closing your eyes is an effective and easy way to do that.
Just a quick note: for a pose more advanced like the tree pose, you may want to keep your eyes open to prevent falling over (unless you’re experienced and up for a challenge). Otherwise, moves like the downward dog, seated forward bend, child’s pose and many others can be easily and safely done with your eyes closed.
Don't want to miss anything?
Get the latest recipes, workouts, success stories, tips and more right in your inbox.