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3 Ways Yoga Can Shift and Change Your Mindset
What does your current daily mindset practice look like?
Journaling, reading inspirational books or reading out affirmations?
Or perhaps you don’t have a daily mindset practice in place right now.
Today, I would like to invite you to start experimenting with your daily mindset practice by integrating Yoga through physical practice (which is called Asana in Sanskrit), breathing exercises (Pranayama), soundwork (Mantra) and meditation (Dyana) to shift and change your mindset to help create the life you desire.
I know I’m a little biased here because I’m a Yoga teacher and a long-term Yoga practitioner. But I have experimented with many different daily mindset practices from different mindset coaches, teachers and experts.
But nothing really has worked for me, until I started incorporating a daily Yoga practice that includes physical practice, breathing exercises, soundwork and meditation.
Yoga means to join, connect and unite – Yoga helps us to access and connect with our inner-self (or true-self) so we can think and act in a more purposeful and meaningful way in our day to day lives.
YOGA CAN HELP YOU SHIFT AND CHANGE YOUR MINDSET TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS.
Yoga has been the most powerful tool in my life & business.
Yoga teaches us to be in the present moment and as you practice Yoga, whether through physical practice and spiritual practice, you are creating changes in your body & mind and will begin to reshape your attitudes, views and thoughts.
Yoga is all about self-discovery and letting go of things (thoughts, emotions, actions) that do not serve you in order for self-growth and realization.
#1 YOGA HELPS YOU BECOME MORE FLEXIBLE – PHYSICALLY & MENTALLY
I often hear people say that they are not flexible enough to start yoga.
Well, I was not flexible at all when I started yoga and I wouldn’t call myself a super flexible Yogi even now.
Though I am definitely more flexible in some parts of my body, there is a certain part of my body that needs more work, especially my upper back and shoulders (right side in particular) because of my Scoliosis (curvature of spine), which is a typical physical characteristic of Vata types (I’m a Vata Pitta!).
For example my upper back can often be very tight and I sometimes struggle to hold even a gentle backbend for 5 breaths – which usually happens when my Vata is out of balance.
And, interestingly some days I can execute backbends with no issues at all.
When my body doesn’t move the way I wanted, I used to get really frustrated and I even feel very emotional about it. I didn’t know what this meant until my Yoga teacher explained what it is all about. I honestly thought that I was just so inflexible and I am just not good at Yoga!
INFLEXIBLE MIND, INFLEXIBLE BODY.
So if you are thinking that you are not flexible enough to start yoga, your mind is also being inflexible.
For example, when you see an advanced student doing a handstand, what are your instant thoughts?
“I can’t do that”?
“Not in my lifetime”?
When I was just starting yoga, I had the same thoughts. My thoughts were so negative that I didn’t even want to try those scary postures my teachers made me do in the class.
When I went to do my Yoga teacher training in 2014, that all changed.
I tried every single posture in the Ashtanga Primary Series. Even though I couldn’t do a posture properly, I learned not to worry about what other people can do and what I can do. The more I practiced yoga, the lighter my body felt, as did my mind.
This is because I was releasing all the tension and frustrations out of my body, by stretching, squeezing and opening my chest and hips. Slowly, my back started to feel less tight and my hips started to open up a bit more.
The tightness or the lower back pain can be related to repression or restriction in your life or issues from the past and the hips can be related to general frustration or trapped emotions (both related to the Sacral Chakra which is associated with the Eater Element and Kapha).
The tightness of shoulders and neck can be related to suppressing your truth, expression and creativity (related to the Throat Chakra which is associated with the Ether (Space) Element and Vata).
Whether you decide to go to your first Yoga session, or are deepening your practice, take a moment in each Yoga posture with an intention to release that tension or emotion.
In this way, you are enabling your trapped energy to be released and you will realize your body is lighter and so is your mind.
#2 REGULAR MEDITATION HELPS YOU CREATE MORE AWARENESS
Meditation is simply the creation of a relaxed state of awareness of mind and body. If you already practice daily meditation that’s great!
Though for many of us, meditation can be quite challenging and a difficult practice to integrate into your daily life. Your meditation practice doesn’t have to be long.
It can be as quick as 5 minute. Taking the time to “do nothing” and sit in focused silence gets us closer in touch with our minds as well as our bodies.
Too often we direct our concentration towards the outside world.
In meditation, we direct our awareness inwards and learn to identify negative thought patterns and emotions and learn to work through and eliminate those feelings that no longer serve us.
HOW TO START BRINGING MEDITATION PRACTICE INTO YOUR LIFE?
The best way to start your daily meditation practice is to set a time to meditate every day. I find it easier to meditate right after my breathing exercise (Pranayama) in the morning.
Choose a suitable time for yourself and stick to it.
Set your timer and start with 3 minutes of meditation and build up from there, to maybe 5 or 10 minutes over the coming weeks.
Sitting crossed leg is the best for meditation because it keeps your spine straight, but it’s not for everyone. Try to find a comfortable way to sit, either on a chair or the floor with a straight spine.
To begin with, just relax and focus on your breath – inhale count to four and exhale count to four. Try not to let your mind wander (and it will!). If it does, gently bring it back to focusing on your breath.
There are many different types of meditation which we can explore in the future, but this is the simplest to start with.
STOP AND BREATH – MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
A few times during the day try and stop for 1 minute and just breathe. Do this at work, at home, or during your commute.
By breathing consciously, your body and mind start to relax and we can enter into the present moment.
The next step is to then let go of all your tension, negative thoughts, pains and worries.
The most important part of mindfulness meditation practice is to try again and again to be in the present moment and let go of unnecessary worries and thoughts so we can remain calm and see things clearly and make better choices throughout the day.
#3 INTEGRATING YOGA INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
Many people practice Yoga as a physical practice.
This was true for me when I started practicing Yoga. I didn’t understand the spiritual element of yoga and I would go to a class to enjoy stretching.
I started to connect with the spiritual element of yoga when I started my Yoga teacher training.
I never used to teach the spiritual element in my class as I wanted my students to enjoy practicing yoga as a physical practice first. But I have been incorporating more and more in the past years. Though I believe that the spiritual side will come to you naturally when you are ready, when the time is right.
Whether you are interested in the spiritual element of Yoga or the physical practice, don’t restrict practicing yoga just on your “mat” in the class.
There are so many ways you can integrate “Yoga” in your daily life. In fact, as my teacher always tells me, you are actually practicing the physical side of Yoga in your daily life already without noticing.
For example, when you stretch in the morning reaching your arms up above your head – (extended mountain pose) or even when you are lying on the bed (relaxation pose, Savasana).
These are some of “Yoga” postures you may be doing during the day without realising it, and there are different ways you can practice “off the mat” in your daily routine to stay in a peaceful and positive mindset. Become more aware of your movement during the day.
Making a small change to how you move, stand, sit and breathe will make a huge difference physically and mentally.
Be mindful with your posture and breath … here are a few small changes you can make in your daily life that will help shift your mindset in a positive way.
If you are standing on your train/bus journey, try standing straight, maintaining even weight on each foot (not taking your weight to one side), with your shoulders drawn back and your belly zipped up.
It’s a great way to strengthen your core as well as your legs whilst keeping balance in a moving train or bus!
Be mindful of how you sit at your desk in a working environment or on the train/bus. I used to cross my legs all the time when I got a seat on the train or bus or even whilst sitting at my desk.
I’ve started to become more mindful with my seated posture and have my both feet firmly on the floor and sit deep with my back straight.
At my desk in a working environment is a little trickier.
As you get more into your work, typing on the keyboard and reading your documents on the screen in front of you, your back starts to round and shoulder roll forward, your feet hanging off the seat and legs crossed.
I do this without thinking and it is so easy to flow into your comfortable position which you have been used to for years and years.
Every 10 minutes have a short pause in between your work and take a deep breath and adjust your posture.
Sit deep into your seat with your back straight, draw your shoulders back and lengthen your neck.
With so many of us working from home these days this is all the more important!
When I feel stressed out, I always go back to focusing on my breaths. It really works for me and it takes me back to a peaceful place.
So try this next time.
When you feel stressed, pressured or tired, take a break from what you are currently doing and start focusing on your breath.
Take three deep breaths and take your awareness into your present moment. Listen to your own breathing and you will find your thoughts calm. Then go back to your work.
These are really simple things you can do anywhere, anytime during the day.
Being mindful about small things you do in your daily routine really makes a huge difference in how you feel and how you react to things in your life.
So give it a go and see how you feel!