I like to practice yoga. Time on the yoga mat can be thought of as a gift. It is time away from reality.
How often in your day do you get to be in a quiet room and just breathe? Probably not that often, so when you devote the time to your yoga practice allow yourself to enjoy it. Make the most of it. Be present within the four corners of your mat.
Focus on your breath. Allow the breath to be the metronome which drives the pace of your practice. Move with the breath, stretch with the breath, strengthen with the breath. By focusing on the breath you can take your mind off of everything else.
With deep, even inhales acknowledge places in your body which are holding tension. Maybe your neck and shoulders. Maybe your jaw. Maybe your hips. Then with long and steady exhales allow that tension to melt away. Feel the shoulders come down out of the ears. Feel your jaw relax. Let go of tension in your hips.
With deep, even inhales acknowledge thoughts that creep into your mind. Maybe your busy schedule. Maybe a list of things you have yet to do. Maybe an interaction with someone that is bothering you. Then with long and steady exhales allow those thoughts to leave your mind. Actively choose to place those things at the top of your mat, something you can handle after your practice.
At the end of your practice lay in a fetal position for a moment on your mat, to represent your rebirth into your day. Acknowledge the lack of tension and stressful thoughts in your mind. Maybe you will have to pick back up some of the things you placed at the top of your mat during your practice–those schedules, lists, and stressful things–but now you can recognize that they build up as tension in the body. That never-ending To-Do list camps out in the shoulders. The ever-busy schedule tightens the muscles of your jaw. You carry around the frustration from those difficult interactions in your hips.
A huge benefit of your yoga practice is that it allows you to become aware of those sources of stress and tension. If we are able to become aware of these things on our mat and can actively choose to let them go there, then maybe we can do the same in day-to-day life as well…