I try to go to yoga twice a week if I can manage it. I find it really relaxing and I like taking time out to center myself and just do my body some good. I’m horribly inflexible, but I still really benefit from it.
I went to a class this morning, and towards the end of the hour our instructor had us lying down and just focusing on our bodies. We did a body scan, starting at the feet and working our way up the body, noticing what was going on. This noticing includes registering a blank if there are no sensations. After the body scan, we focused on our breath, in order to clear the mind.
Obviously the mind has a tendency to drift towards thoughts of the past or the future, but our instructor told us that when that occurred, to acknowledge that it had happened and then to draw our attention back to the breath. It didn’t matter how often it happened.
At the end of the class, I felt really relaxed and aware of the world. I wasn’t worrying about all the work I had to do, or the things I’ve done in my past which I regret and sometimes cross my mind. I was in the moment, present, and happy.
This is the basic idea of mindfulness.
I’d had yoga instructors use similar ideas before, but this was the first time somebody had told us to use actual mindfulness techniques during our class (body scan/breathing/noticing thoughts).
The whole idea of mindfulness is to cultivate attention to the present moment, in order to stop the natural rumination and anxiety that occurs in our daily lives. I think it’s a pretty awesome concept, but it does take some work. You have to actually take time out of your day to ‘be mindful’, it involves concentration, and you have to be kind to yourself during it. It’s not easy.
The benefits, however, are ridiculously awesome.
It is a clinically proven treatment for depression, anxiety, and physical health problems (particularly, and perhaps surprisingly, chronic pain). I think it must also be really helpful for conditions like insomnia, and possibly even eating disorders (as these are based in anxiety really).
I just wanted to post about it, and how yoga might be a really good way to introduce yourself to mindfulness. There are mindfulness courses about, but many cost around £250 for an 8-week course, whereas yoga probably costs £5 a class, or will be free with gym membership (as mine is).
I’d highly recommend it, not only for people with health conditions (mental or physical), but for everybody as a way of de-stressing and noticing how good life really is.
If you think it’s for you, or you’ve tried it before, please let me know what you think!