What is Mindfulness in Yoga? Part 1

You’re standing in Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I). You actively reach through your back foot and allow your tailbone to descend away from your lower back as your arms reach up toward the ceiling. As you hold the pose you start to notice your front thigh burning, your shoulders holding tension, and your breath becoming labored. Still holding. Soon you get agitated and start to anticipate the joy you’ll feel when the pose is over. Your breath becomes shallow while you await the teacher’s instruction to come out of the pose. But she doesn’t say anything. You label her a sadist. Still holding. You decide that you are never coming back to yoga. As your thigh starts to shake, you mentally check out. Frustrated, you drop your arms and look around the room.


You’re standing in Virabhadrasana I, noticing the same sensations, having the same thoughts and feelings-anger, boredom, impatience, tension. But instead of reacting, you simply observe your thoughts. You remember that this pose, like everything else in life, will eventually end. You remind yourself not to get caught up in your own story line. And, in the midst of feeling irritated while your thighs burn, you appreciate the sweetness of the moment. You may even feel a wash of gratitude that you have the time and privilege to do a hatha yoga practice. Then you bring your awareness back to your breath and witness the ongoing sensations and thoughts until the teacher guides you out of the pose.

You’ve just experienced the benefits of mindfulness-of bringing your awareness into the present moment, of noticing and accepting what is happening right now without judgment or reaction. And, no doubt, it feels a lot better than the first scenario (which you might recognize as something you’ve also experienced). Mindfulness is something that Buddhist meditators cultivate. And it’s something that all styles of hatha yoga teach, often through an emphasis on breath awareness.

More to come on this topic…….stay tuned!

This excerpt was taken from The Yoga Journal by NORA ISAACS. Visit http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/peace-of-mind/ to view more.


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