Guest Article: Trevor McDonald - Website
Life is chaotic.
From the moment you wake up and open your eyes, you’re already being greeted with a steady stream of stimuli from seemingly everywhere.
And that’s even before you get out of bed!
It’s all too easy to want to block everything out, put your blinders on, and try to slog through your day-to-day routine.
It’s easy to become so focused on just getting through your day, that when it winds down to an end? You realize you haven’t even focused on one single thing.
You were just go-go-go, trying to survive another day.
That simply won’t do.
That lack of mindfulness can come back to haunt you. You may not even realize it, but being detached and distracted can be very harmful to you.
It’s so important to be in the moment, be focused, and be mindful.
Yet these days, more and more people are detached, distracted, and unaware.
It’s easy to get distracted by countless ads, blog posts about how to avoid body shaming, and everything in between.
The truth is, mindfulness – within your daily routine as well as in your Yoga practice – is an essential element to both your physical and mental wellness.
What Is Mindful Focus & Why Does It Matter?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the big picture that you overlook the smaller details in life.
When you feel like your attention is pulled in a thousand different directions, feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed can seem normal.
The thing is, though, that it’s not normal to feel like you’re constantly on an emotional or mental ledge. Over time, chronic stress can actually be extremely harmful to your health.
Mindfulness can help redirect your thoughts, allowing you a chance to relax and breathe.
Practicing mindful focus has been shown to have several important health benefits. People who practice mindfulness tend to be happier overall and have better health.
They're less likely to get sick too since mindfulness has been shown to help boost immunity.
Mindfulness is also a great way to help relieve anxiety and stress.
If you feel like you’re so overwhelmed with tension and stress that your mind doesn’t want to shut off at night, you may benefit from mindfulness. It has been shown to help those suffering from insomnia, too.
Finally, people who struggle with chronic pain have reported finding lasting relief from their aches through meditation.
As you can see, mindful focus isn’t just something that gets passed around by yogis; even researchers and medical professionals can agree that it’s got some pretty incredible health benefits!
Practicing Yoga to Become a Healthier You
If it feels like your mind is racing and you can’t seem to shut it off, you’re not alone. If you’re struggling to calm your mind, then you may find that practicing mindful focus through yoga can be incredibly helpful.
It’s important to remember that yoga isn’t something that’s reserved exclusively for the trained and enlightened. It’s a practice that’s inviting to people of all age groups, genders, and backgrounds.
Before you can understand the benefits of yoga, though, you first need to understand what the principles of yoga are.
Yoga focuses on a combination of special techniques. More commonly, they include learning specific poses, mindful focus, and breathing.
Together, these make up a portion of yoga.
By taking the time to practice and grow with yoga, you can start to notice a huge difference in your overall well-being.
Because Yoga poses are a type of gentle exercise, it can have incredible effects on your physical health. Yoga can help relieve chronic lower back pain, for example.
It can also help with numerous neurological disorders that can cause severe pain and discomfort. Researchers have found that it can help with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia.
They can also help lower your blood pressure, allowing you to live a much healthier life.
Yoga has been shown to help address a huge spectrum of both physical and mental health issues, as well. It can help treat depression, reduce stress, help with addiction, and reduce insomnia.
Regular practice of yoga poses can also help boost your immune system, reducing your risk of catching an illness.
The bottom line?
Just the mere practice of yoga can greatly, significantly improve your quality of life.
Applying Mindful Focus to Your Daily Life
Applying the principles of yoga to your daily life doesn’t have to be something difficult or complex.
You don’t need to worry about trying to carve hours of your week to focus on, well, focusing.
In fact, even taking the time to practice a tiny bit of yoga can be quite beneficial to your health and welfare.
Even if you don’t have an hour to commit to yoga, you can still find a few small ways to sneak it in.
Finding even 10 or 20 minutes to practice mindfulness can still be a positive influence in your life.
Even better? You can do it right here, right now, in the clothes you’re wearing – no special equipment or yoga mats needed!
To dip your toes into a yoga practice, you need to start small. Take 10 minutes to focus on your breathing. See if you can relax your mind and try to meditate.
If you have a few more minutes, then the gentle hatha yoga postures can help you work out the stress and aches of your body and mind.
Begin with Hatha, after you have developed control and ease of the postures, then you might attempt the styles of yoga that have grown from Hatha such as vinyasa or Yin yoga.
Yoga is so inclusive and gentle that it can be beneficial to you, no matter your age or current ability level. There really is no excuse not to practice it.
That’s the wonderful thing about yoga. There really is something for everyone.
The more you practice yoga and mindfulness, the better you will start to feel.
If you’re looking to improve your focus, reduce your stress, enhance your outlook on life, and even shed a few unwanted pounds, yoga is for you.
What are you waiting for? Your inner peace awaits you.
You just have to be ready and willing to practice mindful focus.
Are you ready?
Now that Wanderlust is over, you've gotten home from the Yoga Journal Conference, you're back home after being away at Kripalu or a Costa Rican Retreat, you might be struggling with the shock of being back in the non-Yogic focused world.
Kripalu Center, Massachusettes
Yoga Is Everywhere
Remember that Yoga isn't meant to be practiced independent of the rest of your life. It is designed to be incorporated into everything you do. Sure, it is nice to be able to focus completely upon accessing that Asana that you have been struggling through. Spending hours of the day practicing Pranayama or Dharana is quite pleasant. These experiences of singular focus are intended to help us access the practice everywhere
Retreats and events provide opportunities to practice with teachers we may not have considered or have access to in our home town. No two teachers are alike in every way, but you can find a close approximation if you know what to look for. Once you're home again take some time to reflect upon your experience and journal about what you enjoyed. Try to identify a few key aspects of the practice and teacher that you felt most effected you. Then, explore the teachers and studios in your area to find someone that most fulfills your desires. Let go of your fear of hurting your instructor's feelings if they aren't serving your needs. It's important to find a teacher that encourages you to grow and change.
Barbie enjoys the guidance T-rex provides
Practice At Home
Hopefully you took good notes while you were exploring all that the retreat had to offer. If not, take some time to recall the aspects of the practices that you found most valuable. Write down what you remember. Ask your teacher for assistance in creating a sequence that includes the practices you most enjoyed as well as that which you think you need to continue to develop. Book a private session with a teacher who can help you to develop your individual practice outside of the studio.
Let Go of Expectations
All festivals and events hold a level of excitement that will never be replicated outside of that space. No Yoga studio can help you to recreate the thrill that you felt while you were on retreat. Let go of your desire to experience the same feelings you had while you were in the room with Rod Stryker or joining in Kirtan with hundres of others. Honor that which each experience created. Use it is help you in Svadhyaya (self study) so that you can begin to identify the feelings and excitement within yourself.
Maybe LTY is the studio for you. Check out our classes and private session options at https://www.laketahoeyoga.com/