Gift the gift of presence
Have you ever picked your nails in pigeon pose? Thought about dinner in downdog? Run through your to-do list in lizard pose? These things I not only notice my students doing when I’m teaching, but I have also caught myself doing at times in my own practice. Maybe not picking my nails (eww!) but I have definitely caught myself thinking about things that are not relevant in my yoga practice.
It’s very easy to get distracted, especially if are usually running around like a mad woman with a million and one things to do before lunchtime. In class, it can sometimes feel as if you are there just to tick a box. Yep, tick, done my yoga class for the day. Just another thing to cross off the list, right?
Yoga shows us exactly what is going on in our bodies, if only we can pay attention to it! We are so often in our heads; analysing, thinking, planning, wishing, hoping, daydreaming, strategising. Thinking about the past or imagining the future. This is an amazing ability that we have as humans, but it can also be our downfall.
Thich Nhat Hahn said ‘if you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence’. The same goes for yourself! Love yourself and give yourself the gift of being fully present in your life. If your mind is in the past or on the future, you can’t possibly be aware of what is going on here and now.
Yoga essentially is the union of the mind and body. In class, you might be doing the physical postures but if your mind is on dinner, are you really doing yoga? Are you really aware of what is going on in your body on the mat? I would say not.
Whenever I find my mind drifting off and getting distracted, I gently draw my attention back into my breath. I start focusing on my intuitive, feeling body rather than my thinking, analysing mind. And I always notice a shift in my practice. I shift into what is real, not what has been and what could be.
Then I take this lesson off the mat into my daily life. Today when I drove home from my yoga practice, I turned off the radio, zipped my phone into my bag, and really focussed on my surroundings. I noticed how green the trees were, the colours of the flowers, the sound of the traffic, the birds, and the wind. When I stopped at a red light, I also noticed other drivers around me. It was interesting to observe them on their phones, scrolling through facebook and not aware at all of what was happening around them.
Next time you are in your yoga practice, set an intention to be really present. And then take that intention off the mat into your daily life. See what happens when you get real, get present and become really aware of what is happening around you. And I promise there won’t be any need to pick your nails in pigeon anymore :)