Another aspect of what makes yoga different (and an aspect that has helped me enormously through a very challenging time), is the focus on mindfulness, which simply means to be present, to be aware. Mindfulness is another word (less daunting) for meditation. Don’t panic because meditation just means to ‘draw down the clutter of the mind to one pointedness’ (focus). We can do anything ‘mindfully’ – you can wash your hands mindfully, just be present and feel the soap and the temperature of the water as it caresses your hands. You can mindfully walk, being aware of the elements on your face and the surrounding environment.
You can even mindfully listen, although this one is quite a challenge. How often do you think you are listening, and then become aware that your mind has wandered off and you missed what was said? Me too, and don’t think the speaker didn’t notice as we all know when we don’t have someone’s full attention (especially children), so a useful tip to aid mindful listening is to silently repeat back in your head what someone is saying.
What makes yoga a mindful practice? Well every posture is linked with a breath, and every breath is linked to a posture, and the breath is the key to enable us to stay ‘present’ and to keep focused – as the postures (asanas) are not just for building strength, but by keeping connected with the posture on the breath, and working to an edge, encourages the mind to stay focused for if it were too easy the ‘monkey mind’ would activate metaphorically jumping off the mat and getting easily distracted. In effect yoga is a moving mediation – or mindful practice – to which the focus enables us to draw down the clutter of the mind, creating space and peace of mind.
The true purpose of yoga is to prepare the body so we can sit still (without distraction of the body complaining) to silence the mind enabling us to listen to that quiet inner voice (also known as your Soul/Higher Self /God) which is where the true guide to our happiness resides, as money, relationships and such will never satisfy us completely, there will always be that void needing to be filled, and for some they will spend a lifetime searching for ways to fill it, to find the ‘meaning of life’ if only they knew it was there within them all of the time, all they needed to do was learn to listen…