yoga certificationBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When you are mindful, you are alert and active. You recognize the thoughts coming in and out of your head, while noticing how your body is moving and feeling. Mindfulness is a total body and thought awareness that comes with deliberate consciousness. Mindfulness is an important part of Yoga practice because it allows you to let your thoughts come in and out, without focusing too heavily on any one thought. It allows you to be completely present as you move your body, stretch your muscles, and bring a fresh oxygen supply to your organs. Yoga instructors should always model mindfulness for their students.

When we spend too much time on any one thought or worry, it grows. The mind is a powerful tool for creating something rather large out of something possibly insignificant. Being mindful can help, because it allows us to take life one moment at a time. We can sit in the present moment and appreciate it for what it is. Mindfulness fosters gratitude and appreciation for all of the “small” things in life. Yoga is an opportunity to take a break from daily routines and stresses to be mindful of our bodies, our spirits, and our deeper purposes in life.

Yoga instructors can teach the concept of mindfulness during meditation practice. Students should sit or lie in a comfortable position, breathing deeply into the belly and chest. As the students breathe, ask them to acknowledge each thought as it passes through their mind, then let it go. Guide the students to become aware of each part of their bodies, then move on to the next. Start with the toes and feet, move up to the calves, knees, and thighs. Keep traveling up the body, asking students to acknowledge the body part, release and relax any tension, and move on. This exercise will help your students learn to reach a state of mindfulness.

During Yoga class, instructors can remind students to be mindful by giving specific cues for each pose. Ask students to move specific parts of the body, and pay attention to how their bodies feel. Ask them to recognize any discomfort and adjust accordingly. Ask them to go deeper into the stretch, by breathing and feeling the moment, for exactly what it is. When Yoga teachers make a choice to consistently discuss, remind, and practice mindfulness, our students will begin to implement it into their own practices with ease.

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