Bring Your Mind to the Mat

You will often hear Yoga teachers saying that the body, breath and mind is the important combination for wholesome practise and it’s true for me too. I believe your breath is the energetic bridge that develops a relationship between your mind and your body and opens a strong life long dialogue that encourages happiness and true health.

But of the triangle of 3, the mind is the trickiest thing to stay with you on the mat during your practise. It is often embedded in your thoughts and rarely pops to the mat to see what your body is up to.

Have you ever driven your car and arrived at your destination don’t remember how you got there? Your mind was elsewhere picking over thoughts, while the car and the world was rushing by. I have done it many times….scary!

It’s the same with your Yoga practise. Your body and it’s breathing arrive on the mat but your mind is more than likely engaged in your external life. In a 90 minute class you can often remain focused on the teacher, on other students or whatever your persistent thought happens to be at the time and therefore miss out on deepening your understanding of your body and your practise.

I talk of the mind as though it’s a separate entity and in many ways it is, but its intangible. You cant’t touch it, although I am sure many people would think it’s the brain from an anatomy perspective!

It’s talked of in gazillions of ways in the self growth industry, ‘mastery of the mind’ being the popular goal, but how the heck do you get your mind to stay with you on the mat and why bother anyway?

Here are a few ‘Yoga with G’ tips from my personal and teaching experience:

  • Learn to get up close and personal listening to your breath. A breath technique (Pranayama) called ‘Ujaii’ is a breath you can literally hear. Its soft even tone is a good way to get your mind to focus on it. It’s rather like counting sheep at night to get to sleep!

  • Close your eyes in postures where possible so you can get to deeply feel whats going on from the neck down. This shuts off the eye senses and assists your mind in getting focused.

  • Take time between postures to stop and bring your mind back to the inhale and exhale. Time is the key! Yoga isn’t a race.

  • Begin your practise lying in Savasana (corpse pose) to create the space in your day, still the body and breathe. As the body stops, the mind slows down, given the chance!

  • Meditate, meditate, meditate every damn day! Even if it’s only for 10 mins. Meditation isn’t a quick fix but with practise your mind will be a heck of a lot more relaxed and obedient. Having a foundation of regular med will assist and enhance your mind mastery and give you a much better Yoga practise. Learn a meditation technique that suits your mind.

    • Madly busy minds and beginners would be better off with a guided meditation practise. Buy or download a relaxing music recording that has someone’s voice guiding you through it. I have 2 relaxation CDs to purchase, if you want to learnt to relax and deeply rest.

    • Other techniques include, Transcendental meditation (TM), Vipassana (and there are heaps more!) which are harder as they give the mind more space to wander off and are centred around the present moment. Experiment and see what suits you.

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Gina
Yoga teacher at Gina Hardy Yoga
I am a Yoga guide, relationship coach and therapist. I focus on teaching Yoga these days and love to teach in class, on retreat and in a 1:1 setting with clients. My motto for life is 'Live, Learn, Love, Pay it Foward' Pay your wisdom forward, tread lightly on this earth and leave footprints of love. Thank you, you are always loved no matter what. Gx

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