One of the benefits of yoga is its ability to strengthen mindfulness – our awareness and experience of the present moment.
While we practice mindfulness on the mat, that’s just one place we can do so. Off the mat is where we truly get an opportunity to put those tools and techniques into place.
But it’s not just in a traditional, seated meditation pose that we should encounter mindfulness – there are many routine, habitual activities where we have the opportunity to explore it.
5 Times to Practice Mindfulness
First thing in the morning
Instead of snoozing your alarm or scrolling through your phone, become mindful of your body. Do a big stretch then check in with different body parts from head to toe. This could include moving your neck from side to side, lifting your shoulders up and down, shaking your shake and flexing your toes. Finish with 10 deep, long breaths.
In the shower
Notice how the water feels flowing across your skin, and the sensations as it travels over your body. Imagine tracing the path of each drop from start to finish. Notice how the water sounds, and how your legs feel as you shift your weight from one foot to the other. As you shampoo your hair, give yourself a head massage and apply gentle but firm pressure. Use soap or a body wash and exfoliate your skin, making circular motions up and down each limb.
Ensure you’re seated for every meal or snack – avoid eating while standing up, on the go or in the car. Limit distractions like the TV being on, sitting at a computer or scrolling through your phone. Look at your food as you eat it, chewing each mouthful at least 20 times. With every bite notice the taste, texture and flavours. How does it smell? What’s hard, soft, chewy? What’s sweet, salty, bitter?
While doing the dishes
Run the water, patiently watching the sink fill. Wash each dish or cup thoroughly, rinsing with cold water as you go. Focus on the soapy water and bubbles, the warmth of the water, and methodically move each item from the sink to the drying rack. Afterwards, keep your hands soft (water can dry them out) by using a good quality moisturiser or hand cream. Rub it in slowly, applying pressure on the pads of your hands, and go over each knuckle and fingernail slowly.
Avoid using your phone or listening to music. Notice the way your feet hit the ground and enjoy the rhythm of your steps. Change your pace from fast and slow. Alternate between pushing off from your heels and your toes. Notice the ground – are you walking on pavement, grass, floorboards? Are there lines, cracks, leaves?
As you practice mindfulness during small moments each day, this will invariably lead to a deeper and more mindful yoga practice – and vice versa.
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