Mindfulness for Stress Relief in Yoga


“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”¬† – James Baraz

Making Movement and Breath Mindful

  • Pay attention to the range of movement available as you move through the poses.
  • Notice sensation that is created in your body as you move. Notice the location of the sensation and notice its nature. Is it strong or is it subtle? Is it constant or is it changing? Is it pleasant or is it unpleasant? Is it tension or is it resistance?
  • Connect to, and move with the rhythm of your breath. Find comfort in rhythmic repetition.
  • Pay attention to each and every aspect of your breath. The sensation of air entering the nose. Sensing its passage into your lungs. The rise and fall of chest and abdomen as you inhale and exhale. Its length and depth. Its rate and rhythm. Notice how inhalations are energizing and exhalations promote a sense of letting go or releasing tension.

Principles of Practice

  • Set aside expectation, striving, and judgement. Instead of trying to be a certain way, practice noticing and accepting how you actually are in this moment. Be curious. Have fun!
  • Never feel compelled to do anything that feels uncomfortable for you for any reason.
  • When you first move into a pose only go far enough to find sensation that is mild to moderate.¬†
  • After a breath or two you, if you feel like challenging boundaries, you can slowly explore your way forward, or, you can choose to stay where you are.

Dealing with Distraction

It is a given that at some point in your practice part of your mind will start thinking about something else. It could be noise in or outside the room. It could be an intrusive thought about a past experience or a future obligation.

This is normal. In fact, this process of acknowledging then setting aside distracting thoughts is what this practice is about. When we notice that we are no longer focussed on what we wish to, generally the present moment awareness of breath or body, we patiently, and without self-judgement, bring our awareness back to our intended object of concentration. In the beginning it will seem difficult, but like any other learned skill our capacity to do this will grow with practice. Consider this. There is a part of your mind, a part of you that noticed that you were distracted. This is the aspect of self-awareness that we wish to grow. This is the part of us that can watch our experience with self-compassion, kindness, and equanimity.

So, when a distraction arises it is not an impediment to your practice, it is an opportunity to make it stronger. Accept that distractions are inevitable, and understand that you can find peace amidst them.

 

Brendon  February 2019

 

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