When you first start practicing yoga, it’s common to wonder why “quieting your mind” is so important. Isn’t yoga physical exercise that just focuses on your body’s movements? What does the mind have to do with how well you can perform a pose?
The truth is your mind has everything to do with how well you can nail a yoga pose. While you may initially feel like you’re working on your body alone, you will later see the bigger truth: by stretching your body, you’re actually stretching your mind too. Plus, quieting your mind allows you to do poses that you never though you could do before. In actuality, the physical postures of yoga are a preparation for the eight-step path of “raja yoga” described by Patanjali in the “Yoga Sutras,” as referenced by Yoga Journal. Simply put, the physical exercises prepare the body and mind to expand beyond their limits so that you can experience greater states of awareness as well as a deeper feeling of calm and well-being.
Now that you understand the importance of quieting your mind, let’s take a look at how to do it:
1. Relax your mind through yoga.
Especially when you feel very upset, doing yoga postures gives you a great way to direct your energy positively and help you feel better. When you’re a beginner, try to practice standing yoga postures for at least 20 minutes a day. Whenever you get really tired, do a child’s pose or a standing forward bend like uttanasana to catch your breath. Then keep going.
Once you’ve practiced for as long as you can, end with an inversion pose like should stand or plow. If inversions are too difficult for you right now, then just end by simply crossing your legs on the floor in front of you and bend forward, resting your forehead on a chair, cushion or the floor, depending on on your range of movement. This is ado mukha swastikasana, which calms the mind and opens the hips.
After holding your final pose for about five minutes, just sit and observe yourself. Close your eyes. Don’t force your mind or body to do anything. Just watch your mind. Notice how you’re breathing. Be aware of how much more relaxed you feel after your yoga practice. When you start enjoying a peaceful feeling inside, visualize that the peace you feel is spreading out from your heart to uplift everyone around you. This brief technique is the beginning of meditation.
2. Relax your mind through meditation techniques.
The world is full of meditation techniques too numerous to list here, so feel free to stick with whichever one works for you. Most importantly, you will benefit the most from using a meditation technique if you remember these helpful hints:
- The best time to meditate is just before the sun rises, or at least before everyone else you live with wakes up and starts making noise.
- Try to take a quick shower at least wash your face before meditating. It helps to refresh you so that you’ll feel more clarity and won’t fall asleep while meditating.
- Pick a quiet, clean spot in your home to meditate in and try to do nothing other than meditate there every day. Having a good spot dedicated to meditation makes it easier for you to build the habit of meditating without too many distractions.
- If any meditation technique you try becomes difficult, just allow yourself to sit there without trying to achieve anything. Random thoughts will come and go through your head and that’s okay. Just watch them play like children, then let them go. You are more than your thoughts.
Try any of these tips to see for yourself how quieting your mind can positively impact your life. If you’re still not convinced, you can can also read the science behind the 76 surprising benefits of meditation here. If you’ve got more questions, please come and talk to us at Evolation yoga and join us for any of our yoga classes in Atlanta!