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Yoga: It's All in Your Mind
Using Your Head - the Right Way!

It's ironic, really, that Westerners are so heavily focused on the physical aspects of Yoga, since all progress made during Yoga practice originates from the mind. Your relationship with your mind determines the quality of your Yoga — not how flexible your body is, not how over/underweight you are, not your physical strength, the length of your legs or torso or any other aspect of your body. When all is said and done, your mind is what determines how deeply you can practice Forward Bend, how long you can stay in Tree Pose, even the precision of your Mountain Pose. There's nothing esoteric or mystical about this. Understanding how to get your mind to enhance, not detract from your Yoga practice is a very practical matter. You don't have to be on a spiritual quest to benefit.

(Article continued below.)

The main problem with the mind is that, more often than not, it is aggressively dominant. We are ruled by our minds — for example, if you are trying Crow Pose (Bakasana) for the first time, perhaps your mind is saying, "This is too hard — I can't do this!" Chances are you believe what your mind is telling you and you discover that, yes, you can't do the pose. Or perhaps there is a problem in your life and you can't stop thinking about it. Your worried mind keeps you so preoccupied that it's hard to pay attention while you're driving, at work, or even sitting at home and reading a book. Try any balance pose in that state of mind and you won't be able to stay in it for very long. The worst part is that your worrying is doing nothing to contribute to a solution. In fact, your mind is often too cluttered to really be effective when it comes to finding solutions. Imagine a huge storage room filled with boxes that are stuffed with files in no particular order — that is the mind in its present state. Plus, the mind is slow, even in those who pride themselves on their quick thinking. Consider this: your body reacts instantly and instinctively, you can fall in love in the blink of an eye, but the mind needs time to figure things out. The mind is a disorganized but stern taskmaster — when it says "Jump!" you jump, but you don't quite know just why you're leaping around.

It's not supposed to be this way. True mind is passive and receptive. It gathers information and waits patiently for the right time to put its knowledge into use. When the mind is allowed to be dominant, that's when the problems start. Life becomes mired in debates. Concerns over the future and regrets about the past take precedence over the present moment. Spontaneity and joy disappear. You become a slave to words like "can't" and "should." How do you make an active and busy mind passive? Yoga is a great tool for this. Practiced properly, Yoga quiets the mind and frees it from its self-imposed restrictions. You can then take these lessons into your everyday life and try them out there. This enhances your Yoga practice which, in turn, enhances your life once again. You can start consciously retraining your mind the very next time you practice Yoga. It's very simple (although not always easy!).

Next page >> Just Do It! (Yoga, That Is!) >> Page 1, 2

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