Yes, even the title is a little daunting, isn’t it?
From the point of view of this writer—whose mind is admittedly cluttered with details, deadlines, and countless worries—it’s a skill I know I need to master also: Quieting my mind. I’m fine with the exercise aspect of yoga, for example, but clearing my thoughts for a calmer presence is another story entirely.
Whether you’re setting aside your “me” time before work or later, after a long day, it’s hard not to keep going over your to-do list in your mind, thinking ahead to what’s for dinner that night, or even zeroing in on a little pain here and there while you’re bending and stretching. Happily, there are tips to head you in the right direction, whether you’re new to yoga and meditation or simply scheduling a much-needed “relaxation break” with yourself during a day of occupational madness!
- Put your phone down at least a half-hour before a yoga class. Sure, it sounds simple, but down means literally nowhere within reach!
- Spend a few minutes outside in nature to clear your mind and reduce your anxiety level. Consider a short walk before beginning a class or take a seat outside somewhere after work to start fresh again.
- Listen to calming music on the drive from work to your next destination. (Hint: humming along can also be self-soothing!)
- Visualize what you’re trying to achieve: If you’re aiming for that sense of calm and relaxation you might only experience at the beach, close your eyes and picture the ocean. Or, simply close your eyes and pay attention to what you see (we bet you won’t see just a black space!)
- Reset your breathing. If your concentration is waning, first pay attention to the pace of your breathing. Try this easy breathing pattern to start: Breath in through your nose for four seconds, hold the breath for three seconds, then release the breath through your mouth for another four seconds.
- Focus on the quiet and calm of the space you plan to exercise or meditate in. Look around for a focal point to center your thoughts.
- If you’ve come from a negative situation at work, take a few minutes to count your blessings—out loud. You’ll instantly feel calmer!
- Develop a list of “peaceful” words to repeat to yourself throughout the process—thoughts that will pull you back to a more relaxed state.
Practicing both yoga and meditation can totally change the way your body reacts to stress, and although it can be a challenge to let yourself “rest,” doing nothing can be amazingly good for the soul! But it takes time—and practice—so, above all, be gentle with yourself, and don’t expect perfection right away. Don’t fight your active mind so much that you contradict its amazing abilities—but learn to balance the ebb and flow of your thoughts with a goal of restoring and energizing both your body and soul!