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Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Teaching Mindfulness in Yoga Class
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
When teaching a Yoga class, the concept of mindfulness will help all of your students. Some students have difficulty unplugging from electronics devices. When we encourage them to be present for practice, they may feel like a fish out of water. If you have children, or interact with them regularly, you have probably seen mindfulness in action. Watch a child walk down a woodsy road. He or she will stop every step or two to bend down and examine a leaf, a stone, or a bug. It might take 20 minutes to travel 20 feet. Most adults become exasperated by all the “dilly-dallying.” A child does not have a million worries running through his or her brain. A child is focused on the journey, not the destination.
Many adults strive to reach a state of mindfulness, which is much like that of a child. Yoga helps many people escape anxiety, stress, and worry. The asana, pranayama, and meditative aspects, work wonders toward releasing physical and mental stress, which focuses the mind, while stretching and strengthening the entire body. Mindfulness is a powerful concept that helps our students live in the present moment. During Yoga practice, it helps bring awareness to each part of the body. It takes practice to be mindful on a regular basis, but it can be done, and the results are extremely positive.
Yogic mindfulness can be practiced during meditation by breathing deeply and willing yourself to be present for each breath. Instead of focusing on all the thoughts rumbling around in your head, let your mind be still. Acknowledge each passing thought and promptly release it. Stay in the present moment by soaking up your current environment of sounds, smells, and sights. Bring awareness to your body by focusing on each part for a moment. Breathe deeply into any sore or irritated muscles, and then release the tension along with the breath.
Being mindful allows us to appreciate all the seemingly insignificant moments that take place in daily life. When you vow to be mindful, you allow yourself to focus on each moment as it passes, instead of encouraging your brain to wallow in suffering, worry, and stress. Yogic mindfulness allows you to breathe and appreciate each moment for what it is. You can be fully present when your child or significant other speaks about the day. You can put everything else aside, while you play with your kids. It allows our students to show gratitude toward the people they interact with. When we practice regularly, a deep sense of peace blankets our shoulders. No matter what happens, good or bad, you are able to acknowledge it for what it is and move on. Mindfulness is a method for applying Yogic principles toward real life situations.
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