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Focusing the mind; On and off the mat

Navigating Inner Stillness and Present Awareness on Your Yoga Mat and Beyond - By Emma Mills

Reading time: 3 minutes

When you step onto your yoga mat, you are trying to get into ‘the zone’ that head space you need to focus on your posture, alignment and balance.

Sometimes this will come easy and you can glide from warrior 2 to 3 like a beautiful swan along a lake. Other times when the mind is not with you, its still at work or writing out a mental to do list it can be that bit harder to be in the present just enjoying your time for self.

When I am on my mat, that is my time and everything else can wait 10 minutes, and that is what I encourage others to do ~ practice yoga first, deal with everything else once your cup is full, the same goes for your daily routine, one task at a time is just fine, you are doing what you can and that is enough.

When you are on your yoga mat, and this is easier said than done (it took me many years to fully become aware of my mind wondering off), but having said that, try to clear your mind of all thoughts, and if this is difficult right now, when you stand, sit or lie down in a pose ask yourself, ‘how does my body feel?’ ‘when I breathe which part of my body moves?’ ‘which part of my body is connected to the earth right now?’

Because asking yourself these questions and looking closely at how you feel mentally and physically draws your attention away from your everyday busyness.

However how do we focus during our everyday life, how do we cope when anxious or stressful thoughts take hold? That spiralling feeling when one thought starts another.

The best technique I use for the everyday is distraction or a ‘mind break’ distract your mind to something else for a short while, this should enable your mind to take a break from overthinking and when you come back to the task you need to take on, you will hopefully feel a new sense of inner focus.

Some great activities for a short ‘mind break’ are colouring, reading a few pages of a book, sitting outside and using your senses to see, hear, smell etc. anything that will give you the break you need.

And when you then come back to the present, turn your attention to just one thing at a time, if you are making dinner focus on that, if you are writing an essay then that is your focus at that moment.

Yoga can be massively helpful when it comes to focus because what we are learning on the mat tends to stay with us throughout the day and what yoga teaches us is to find inner quiet, training the peaceful pool of water that is your mind.

So next time your mind goes for a wonder, gently bring it back into the moment or if its gone too far then take a break, reset and come back around to what needs to be done in that moment.

Emma Mills

Emma is a 200hr qualified yoga teacher, specialising in Hatha Yoga and breathwork, aside from this she has completed many CPD yoga courses and recently completed a 'flexibility workshop'.

She is currently teaching voluntarily online and being inclusive to every student is always at the forefront of her mind when setting up a class.

Using social media and the discovery of Instagram she has been able to reach out and share the joys of practicing yoga with many other likeminded people.