Have you ever gotten that feeling that you just can't think clearly? Are your thoughts a bit on the cloudy side? Are you indecisive or skipping from project to project but not really getting anything done in the way that you would like?
As a writer, having a focus issue is a serious problem. To work effectively I have to be on target and that's where yoga comes in. Sometimes I feel like my brain is a snow globe that's been shaken up and seeing clearly isn't possible. And that's when I know it's time to be still.
Keep reading to learn my 3 tips for finding focus both on my yoga mat and in life.
1. Vipassana Meditation
I find Vipassana Meditation is a great way to settle the body and mind. I like to meditate for 30 minutes at least once a day and when I'm truly unfocused, I sit for 30 minutes twice a day. I'll do once in the morning right when I wake up and once in the evening as the sun is setting. These are the times that work the best for me, but feel free to test out a bunch of times until you find what works for you. Start by following your breath for the first 15 minutes. Every time that you feel your mind wonder come back to the breath and restart. But avoid any judgment. Don't beat yourself up if you just can't settle.
In the next 15 minutes, continue to follow the breath, but then also become aware of the sensations that come up in the body. If the mind moves to a particular thought, fully engage that thought until it passes. If the mind moves to a particular physical sensation, fully engage that sensation until it settles. Continue this practice throughout the meditation.
2. Yin Yoga poses
Often times if my mind is unfocused, a faster vinyasa practice doesn't do much to settle it. It takes a slower Yin Yoga or deep stretch practice to slow me down. Consult a certified Yin Yoga teacher before starting a regular Yin practice.
Start in a simple low lunge and hold the pose for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on how you're feeling. This allows not just the muscle, but the tissue to open as well. You should be right at your edge the entire time, listening to your body so that you don't go beyond your edge and hurt yourself. The foot is planted and roots down directly underneath the knee as you fully release into your psoas. Work on both sides and then neutralize the legs in downdog.
Then move onto your stomach. You can start off with the elbows directly underneath your shoulders in a sphinx shape. If you don't feel a deep stretch in the lower back extend the arms and then release any bits of muscular engagement in the hips; fully release into the back. Hold for 1 to 3 minutes. Again, listen to your body the entire time to avoid injury. Breathe the entire time, watching the thoughts as they roll by almost like clouds in the sky.
Twists serve to slow down and reset the entire nervous system. When the nervous system slows down, the dust in the mind begins to settle, bringing you clarity. Come to a comfortable seated position. Cross the right leg over the left leg and come to an easy twist. The left arm crosses over the right knee and the head is the last thing to turn. Bring the focus to the breath, just watching its ebb and flow. Hold for five breaths on each side.