Do you find it difficult to focus your mind on one thing at a time? Does the idea of developing internal focus during a yoga session seem unachievable?
A large part of a successful yoga session is the ability to focus inwards, centre your mind and clear your thoughts. However, this can be challenging for most people – particularly if your day-to-day life is particularly hectic.
The good news is that the more you practice yoga, the easier focusing your mind will become. By attending weekly classes and introducing some of the key practices in your everyday life, you may be surprised how quickly your mind can adapt to the calmness, focus and serenity needed to truly centre yourself.
Everyone has to start somewhere. So, here are three tips for those who may find it difficult to concentrate during their first yoga sessions.
Begin with your breathing
One of the easiest ways to calm a frantic mind is steady and rhythmic breathing. By focusing your attention on inhaling and exhaling at a consistent rate, you can ensure your thoughts are lead away from distraction.
Practice closing your eyes and taking long, deep breaths in, and releasing over a set time. By breathing on a three-second cycle, for instance, the required concentration on your nose, throat and lungs should help focus your mind on your body, rather than the world outside.
Find your mantra
An affirming phrase, word or reassuring sound, can be used to aid focus, and is a good way to add an extra layer of positivity in your yoga practices.
Best spoken internally, rather than out loud, repeating simple phrases to yourself helps to focus your thoughts on a single positive idea. Try repeating lines like “I can achieve this” or “I am focused”, or something relevant to the distracting thoughts preying on your mind.
There is also always the option of listening to the sound of your breath as in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga sequence.
Focus on your body
When practicing yoga, your body goes through a lot of motions. From stretching to holding, the different poses can be rewarding both mentally and physically. However, if you find your mind drifting, it may become difficult to hold some of the more challenging asana (postures).
To improve your focus in these moments, turn your thoughts to how your body is reacting to each pose. Feel the stretch of each muscle, the weight on each joint and the contact you have with your mat, and the air that you breath. Mentally go through the different parts of your body and how they feel starting with the feet; then upwards, feeling the legs, hips, back, chest, shoulders etc.
There are a lot of sensations to pick up on if you are willing to concentrate, so taking your time with each body part should help you reflect inwards for the duration of each pose.