Our bodies, our breath, our thoughts, our emotions, and our general energy all make up this ‘self’, that we can grow rather out of touch with as we spend so much time in the worlds of our mind.
It is all too easy to become wrapped up in our “heads” so to speak – with our own thoughts, preoccupations, dreams, imaginations, entertainment (music, movies, books) communications (cell phones, email, social media), or simply doing work that requires a lot of brain power – and not engaging in as much physical movement, in this modern day and age, that we eventually begin to grow distant from our true selves.. Our body, breath, thoughts, emotions and energetic field.
When we truly ‘practice yoga’, we put everything else aside, and focus very simply on our breath and our body. Even though the ultimate goal of yoga is to create a ‘calm and steady mind’, we don’t have to ‘focus’ so much on our thoughts, or trying to release them as much as we need to redirect our awareness to our body and our breath, which automatically brings us fully into the present moment.
Yoga Sutra 1.2
Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.'Patanjali's Yoga Sutras'
Our ‘monkey minds’ want to constantly shift from one shiny object to the next, from one to-do-list, thought, desire, memory or big idea, to the next. The modern media saturated, ‘entertainment’ culture that we live in can be extremely fast-laced and chaotic, overflowing with so much ‘data’ (images, songs, ‘facts’, stories), that it only encourages this hyperactive mind.
The first few times we practice we may find our mind easily and often wandering from observing our breath, to what we’re going to eat when we finish practicing, something we wished we’d done before class, thinking about that movie coming out next week that we’re excited about, how much we like (or don’t like, haha) the girl’s leggings three rows down, realizing we should have called mom back earlier today, thinking about fixing our hair, checking our phone, pondering on the advice we’re going to give our friend when we meet for dinner later.. The list is literally infinite.
This constant ‘mind chatter’ is what gets in the way of us truly listening within. Whenever we become quiet, we can hear more. We become a better listener. Whenever we become a better listener, we can also become an ‘observer’, we are no longer judging every thought, feeling, and sensation that arises; we are no longer judging if our forward fold is deep enough, or if our back bend in ‘good’ enough; we are simply experiencing the thoughts, feelings and sensations that arise within different postures, and using the postures as a tool to learn more about ourselves.