“Mindfulness.” It’s a term that’s thrown around the yoga studio pretty frequently, and with good reason — all styles of yoga challenge us to be fully aware and in tune with our bodies and thoughts. We have written before about mindfulness and how it can offer a wide range of health benefits including stress reduction, improved memory and focus, and even pain management.
However, if you are new to yoga, mindfulness, or meditation, then you may not know how to begin. In today’s blog, we’ll give you some tips on how to begin practicing the skill of mindfulness in your own life. Read on to learn more, and if you’d like to put your mindfulness to practice in the yoga studio, we invite you to come and visit us at Wilmington Yoga Center. Check out our extensive yoga class schedule or contact us to get started! In the meantime…
1. Be Still
One of the most common ways to cultivate mindfulness is to practice regular meditation. During mindfulness meditation, focus on your breath, the sounds and sensations around you, and your own thoughts. This may sound simple, but it can be very challenging to eliminate all distractions and be fully present and aware. Some people describe mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose,” and this is a good way to frame it in your mind as you are just beginning to learn. Focus on the simple act of sitting still and paying attention.
2. Notice Your Breathing
Pay attention to the way breath is flowing into your body. Are you breathing into your chest or into your belly? Are your breaths quick and shallow or slow and deep? Try deliberately changing your breathing and pay attention to how the change makes you feel.
Breathing exercises can be exceptionally helpful for reducing stress in tense situations. By practicing the ability to calm, steady, and control your breath while you are relaxed, you will be better able to use these skills when you are feeling anxious or stressed.
3. Do a Body Scan
If your mind is flitting and wandering, a good way to seize control of your thoughts is to focus on the way your body feels from head to toe. Start at your feet, paying attention to the way your toes and heels feel. Is there anything pressing against them? Are they hot or cold? Can you feel the air on them? Move your awareness slowly up to your ankles, your shins, your knees, all the way up your body until you reach the top of your head. You can go as quickly or as slowly as you like, and do it once or several times. It’s about getting closely attuned to your own body, and keeping your thoughts fully in the present moment.
4. Search Your Emotions
If you are feeling upset, angry, stressed, or sad, don’t hide from the emotion. Think about what it is that’s making you feel this way. They don’t have to be negative emotions, either. Are you feeling happy and elated? Calm and contented? Anxious? No matter the case, taking stock of how you are feeling can help you realize that your emotions do not define you, and they don’t have to define your thoughts. Practicing this self-reflective process on a regular basis will help you to understand yourself better, break negative patterns in your life, and react to emotional situations in a healthier, more constructive way.
Combine Mindfulness With Yoga at Wilmington Yoga
After a few days of intentionally practicing mindfulness, you will notice that it’s getting easier to be an observer to your own thoughts and feelings. Once you’re feeling comfortable with stationary mindfulness meditation, we challenge you to combine mindfulness with movement at Wilmington Yoga. We offer more than 100 yoga classes every week, and we have yoga lessons for every interest and ability level, so whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a total newcomer, you will be welcome here. We have locations in Wilmington and Leland, North Carolina, and we offer frequent yoga workshops and retreats as well.