There are many things that can be practiced while on the mat. Mindfulness is a good place to start. The act of paying attention to exactly what you are doing is what will bring the most benefit from any action. Notice where your mind goes while your body is on the mat and come back as many times as needed. Be gentle with yourself.
Practice what you want to reinforce
Once you notice what you’re practicing. Decide if it’s what you want to see more of in your life. If you want to practice compassion or kindness, try it out on the mat. Besides mindfulness, Ahimsa, is another good place to start. If you need some more patience in your life, try that on. More calm, breath, courage, acceptance? Set your intention. Whatever your heart desires for you.
Within the postures
If you walk away from your mat and wonder why certain parts are sore, there could be some more mindfulness to be practiced or balance to be brought in. Sore wrists? Make sure your fingers and knuckles are taking their share of weight, Sore neck or shoulders? Notice if you’re accidentally practicing holding tension in them on and off the mat. Does your chin tend to lead or your head fall back? Do your shoulders crowd your ears or fall forward during Chaturanga, for instance? Does any area collect tension because it’s become habit or as protection?
Notice what’s happening in these areas off the mat as well. Are you on the computer or phone a lot? Notice how you’re sitting right now. Move gently as often as you can. Bodies are made for movement. Your yoga practice is a chance to balance out the constriction in your life. Practice freedom.
Your life is your practice
Your practice does not end when you roll up your mat. You could think of every position you are in during the day as a yoga posture. Place your body and your mind in such a way that is beneficial to you. Then when you step back on your mat, it’s like you never left. Your practice advances by what you put into it; not by what crazy posture you can get yourself into next.
When you’re present while you practice, you may see what’s being reinforced. What you learn about yourself, you get to take with you. Please don’t leave it behind. Oh, and remember your water bottle too. ;)
I’d love to hear about your practice,