Learning to listen to your body can be difficult. Many of us try to distract ourselves from ourselves, but yoga brings us back. A few ways we can take time to quiet the mind and really connect with the body throughout our practice are:
Connecting Breath with Movement Usually, within the first 5 minutes of any vinyasa class you'll hear the instructor cue some sort of Cat-Cow movement. This is meant to instill that body-breath connection. Inhale: tiny back-bend, opening the heart, opening the lungs, creating more space for the breath, the air, that life-force. Exhale: arch the spine, completely empty the lungs, empty the belly, expel. Simple things like focusing on connecting that breath with bodily movements can help focus the mind. If you're having trouble, start laying flat on your back, place one hand on the belly, the other on the chest. Close the eyes and inhale through the nose for a count of 4. Start by bringing the breath deep into the belly, fill it up like a big Buddha belly! Feel your hand start to rise, then expand the breath into the lungs. Finally, bring the breath up into your heart-space and maybe even into the collar bones. On the exhale, release the chest first, feeling that hand slowly lower. Bring the exhale down, collapsing the lungs, and finally into the belly. Bring the navel towards the spine for a full, complete exhalation.
Slowing Down Our Practice My classes have been known for being up-beat and fast paced, especially for a hot class. (Upwards of 93°!) But since I moved to Melbourne, my students have changed and so have I. I'm starting to slow it down a bit. I'm learning that fast isn't always best, running away from or problems, thoughts, and/or feelings isn't the solution. It's the same thing in yoga or any exercise routine. If you slow it down, you may notice some tendencies you have or corners you might be cutting you were unaware of when you were just going through the motions.
Scanning the Body
This is my favorite Savasana walkthrough, bedtime meditation, mid-day check-in, etc. Starting at the tippy top of your head, become hyperaware of each and every body part. Honor the forehead, the eyes, the cheeks, nose mouth, remove the tongue from the roof of your mouth and relax the jaw - all the way down to your tippy toes. Honor those body parts, really feel that organ or limb, and then let it go. Let it relax into the universe and then move onto the next until you're completely still in body, and mind.