In this series of posts, I explore skills that you can take from a mindful yoga class to use in your daily life to help you respond to stress.
In my last post, I wrote about how mindful yoga has helped me with stress and anxiety. In the following posts we’ll look in more detail at some specific tips for dealing with stress in daily life. These are all things that we practice in a mindful yoga class, but I think that they only become really useful when they begin to show up in your life outside class, too. One of my friends and teachers, Aki Omori, says: “We practice being present when things are easy, so that we have more chance of doing it when they are difficult”. In a yoga class we are given conditions that make mindfulness of the body easier. The more we practice, the more we can draw on these skills outside class as well.
1. Notice body-mind connections
The first skill doesn’t involve any doing at all. It’s just a matter of noticing. In mindfulness practices we cultivate the skill of observation – simply becoming a gentle witness to what is going on. Beginning to notice what’s happening in your body and how this connects to your thoughts is incredibly useful. The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, give yourself a chance to notice how it affects your body. How is your breath? Your heart rate? Your muscle tension? Pain? See if you can practice witnessing these things without needing them to change right now. Just notice, and see what happens.