Mindfulness is one of those topics that’s always trending. Everyone’s talking about it, and you know you should try to be more mindful. But you don’t even know how to start.
Up until a few years ago, that was exactly how I felt, too. That was until I established a daily yoga routine that transformed my life.
How It Started
I had dabbled with yoga in the past, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second child that it became an essential part of my daily routine.
I was struggling with all the aches and pains that come along with pregnancy. But there was a deeper issue. I was extremely anxious about giving birth after a traumatic emergency C-section with my first baby. One thing helped me face up to these challenges: yoga.
It began small (as things have to when you’re six months pregnant and have a toddler in tow!) I started practicing yoga for around ten minutes at the end of the day to ease my achy back. It brought me immediate relief, but this time, I felt the greater impact that yoga was having on my life.
Physical and Mental Benefits
Those few minutes were becoming a refuge and solace for me. It was the one opportunity to slow down and stop rushing, thinking, or worrying. I could focus completely on my breath and feel a complete sense of calm.
I also began to feel confident in myself and my body. I knew that I could give birth to my baby naturally and that everything would turn out fine, insha Allah. (Spoiler: I had a wonderful birth experience.
The breathing practices I learned from yoga helped me ride the waves of contractions, and my baby was born less than an hour from arriving at the hospital, alhamdulillah.)
Ever since then, yoga has continued to play a role in my life almost every day. It’s not always been easy to fit in, and it’s rarely looked like those photos you see on Instagram. But it’s always been beneficial.
Yoga has helped me keep cool when dealing with post-partum depression, toddler squabbles, and other hardships life has thrown at me. It helps me refocus on the here and now, despite my tendencies to worry about what has already happened or what could happen.
I even connect with my children by practicing family yoga together. It’s a beautiful bonding experience that has proved useful in managing my child’s anxious moments.
Why Yoga Cultivates Mindfulness
So, why does practicing yoga help you become more mindful? For the length of time that you’re on your yoga mat, you need to block everything else out.
When you practice yoga, you follow the breath and move with your inhalations and exhalations. Focusing on the breath is also essential for meditation, as it helps you ignore any distractions and be fully in the present moment.
Many yoga positions are physically challenging, so being focused is even more important. Whether you’re trying to balance in Tree Pose or move smoothly from Warrior Pose, these movements require total concentration. If your mind wanders, you’ll find yourself wobbling, too.
When we’re practicing yoga, we also take the time to notice how we’re feeling. You can take stock of whether you’re feeling relaxed or stressed. You realize if you’re gritting your teeth or storing tension in your shoulders. And once you know, you can release that tension or make shifts to feel more comfortable.
How to Develop a Daily Yoga Practice for Mindfulness
So, you want to start practicing yoga for mindfulness? The best way to build a yoga habit is by practicing little but often. Ten minutes is a great way to get started – it’s not overwhelming, and it makes it easier to commit.
If you aim to spend half an hour a day doing yoga, you’re more likely to find excuses or skip it altogether.
Be kind to yourself, too. If you do miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Just get up the next day and start again. Another way to incorporate yoga into your daily routine is by having a set time for it. Lots of people practice yoga in the morning when they first wake up.
It can be a fantastic way to start your day and get your body moving before you get too busy. Right before bed is another excellent time to fit in some yoga, to help you wind down before you sleep.
Staying in the zone and focusing can be difficult. You may feel your mind wandering all over the place, but don’t worry. It’s completely normal. Just bring your mind back to the present moment and your breath, in and out, as you move. Your concentration will improve with regular practice, so don’t feel disappointed if you don’t feel mindful straight away.
Anyone can practice yoga, and everyone can benefit from it! Yoga and mindfulness have a long list of physical and mental health benefits. By practicing yoga and meditation, you can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, ease chronic pain, and feel calmer and more self-aware.
You’ll feel stronger, more flexible, and have greater self-confidence. And it’s a healthier way to destress after a bad day, rather than bottling up your anger or comfort eating, for example.
That’s why I’d encourage you to give yoga a try. Just ten minutes a day is enough to feel a positive impact on your life. So, get yourself to a nearby yoga class or pull up a video on YouTube and follow along.
Take some deep breaths and block out the world for a few minutes; I guarantee that it will do you good!