Mindfulness can help anyone enjoy a happier and healthier life — with lower stress and anxiety levels, higher productivity levels, and stronger relationships.

While most mindfulness practices involve meditation, mindfulness can also be achieved using other techniques, like yoga.

If you simply focus your attention inwards during a yoga session, you can simultaneously be mindful while exercising your body.

Practising yoga mindfully will make your yoga sessions more enjoyable and can even improve your yoga skills.

This article will explain the concept of mindfulness before sharing a few simple tips for combining yoga with mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the act of placing all of your focus on the present moment.

Instead of ruminating about events that happened in the past or which may happen in the future — you are fully absorbed in what is happening right now.

It is a simple technique, but one that is very powerful.

Mindfulness will help you eliminate the repetitive or negative thoughts that cause anxiety and stress.

It can also help you be more productive, calmer, and aware of your body.

Your ability to be mindful is enhanced by performing mindfulness exercises.

These exercises will improve your ability to focus on a particular thought, feeling or sensation and become grounded in the present.

The most well-known mindfulness exercise is the raisin exercise.

Participants give their full attention to a single raisin — touching it, squeezing it, smelling it, chewing it, tasting it and so on.

The objective of the exercise is to completely focus on the sensations that the raisin provides.

Other thoughts are pushed out of you mind as you are absorbed by the raisin, allowing you to be completely mindful.

The connection between mindfulness and yoga

The concept of mindfulness was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in the late 1970’s.

Dr. Kabat-Zinncan created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts to help people with chronic illnesses.

The concepts that underpin mindfulness can be traced back to the early teachings of the Buddha — in particular, a Buddhist meditation technique called Vipassana.

The word Vipassana translates to “seeing things as they really are”.

The goal of a Vipassana meditation is to reach enlightenment and liberation of the mind.

It requires the participant to focus on their breathing and other bodily sensations while clearing the mind.

The Buddha said this form of meditation would help a person eradicate suffering, purify their mental state, and approach the problems in their life in a calm way.

It is said that Vipassana can also be used to help people contribute more to society and their loved ones.

So how does this relate to Yoga?

The path of the Buddha and the path of yogic sage Patanjali are actually quite similar.

Both paths involve practices that involve training the mind and becoming more aware.

They both have ethical guidelines and ask the devotee to develop their inner self.

While the yogic path places emphasis on the breath and body to achieve these goals, Buddhists use mindfulness.

It is possible to combine the two approaches and enjoy mindful yoga routines that leave you feeling calm, relaxed, and energised.

Practising mindfulness during yoga

Here are some simple tips that will help you combine mindfulness with yoga:

Focus on your own experience at the start of the session

As soon as you begin your yoga session, focus on your body and your breathing patterns.

You can also start your yoga routine with a short meditation session where you practice mindfulness meditation.

Have a clear practice area

It can be useful to remove distractions from the workout space like your smartphone and other personal possessions.

Try to practice in a quiet area where you cannot hear other people talking or moving about.

Don’t practice with an agenda

Avoid coming to yoga with any agendas or specific goals.

If you come to the practice with a thought like “today I will nail that hard yoga pose” you will be putting significant pressure on yourself.

If you fail to enter the pose successfully, then you might have negative thoughts about your progress. Instead, enjoy the experience and let the session progress naturally.

Don’t be competitive

Resist the urge to watch what other people are doing and competing with them.

Instead, keep your focus on yourself.

Use annoyances as a trigger to re-focus on yourself

As you practice, you might have difficulty performing a certain pose.

If this causes feelings of annoyance or frustration, use these feelings as a trigger to re-focus on yourself.

Let go of those emotions and forgive yourself, then clear your mind once more by focusing on your bodily sensations.

Make use of Savasanna

Savasanna (corpse pose) is an excellent opportunity to practice mindfulness.

You can use this time to focus on your breathing or scan each part of your body.

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