Asking the mind to be quiet and allowing your heart to guide our yoga practise is not always that easy. The mind is so busy and often looks for an opportunity to be active. This means that in many instances the mind can be the main driving force behind the yoga practice. Sometimes the mind will try to manipulate the practice to satisfy the ego.
Focusing on the heart centre takes focus away from the mind and could encourage a more instinctive practice driven by feeling. By enjoying a yoga practice that is derived from feeling, it becomes more instinctive.
The mind has many positive influences on our practice and will help us to identify various sensations such as pain, incorrect alignment, imbalance, pleasure etc. But the mind might also tell us to move deeper into a pose for performance reasons. When we feel that the practice is no longer driven by feeling, try bringing your attention back to the heart centre to see if that makes the practise more instinctive.
To help minimise the involvement of the mind, try focussing on the heart centre whilst performing the following postures.
Begin in a seated posture such as Sukhasana (the easy pose) or Padmasana (the lotus) and find correct alignment, focus on each detail within the posture, such as a straight spine, pelvis descending to the ground, a subtle lift through the pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles whilst allowing the shoulders to gently fall away from the ears.
Take a moment to breathe slowly whilst focusing the mind on the current activity. Remain in the posture breathing slowly keeping the mind fully engaged on each sensation experienced.
Keeping full awareness on current sensations, focus on the centre of your chest. Feel this area open and lift. Experience each sensation and then try to maintain this as you move from your heart through your practice.
When you feel your mind begin to dominate the practice, come back into stillness within the posture that you are performing. Direct your focus to your alignment, breath and any sensations experienced, when you are ready bring your awareness to the centre of your chest and allow the yoga to flow.
Trikonasana - triangle
This is a wonderful posture to open the heart centre. It will release blockages in the energy zones and allow prana to flow freely bringing vitality and vibrancy.
Once you are comfortable in the posture focus on the sensations that you experience physically and emotionally. After a while bring your focus to the centre of your chest allow yourself to let go of thinking and enjoy the experience.
Ardha Chandrasana – the half moon
This is another highly energising posture it is perfect for opening the heart centre.
Breathe slowly in the posture whilst becoming aware of all sensations experienced. When you are ready begin to minimise that activity of the mind and focus on the centre of the chest radiating energy. Repeat on the other side.
Balasana - pose of the child
After performing a series of opening postures it is a good idea to spend a moment resting in pose of the child. Doing so will help to contain the energy and maintain physical and emotional balance. This also ensures that you do not leave the practice in a vulnerable state.
Savasana - the corpse pose
Spend a little time resting in savasana. Become aware of all sensations experienced allow yourself to experience the warm energy of the heart centre. As you do this picture yourself protected by a bubble of white light. Remain here for as long as feels necessary.
A quick technique to help tame an active mind;-
Prior to your yoga practice spend a moment just watching the mind and its activity. At no time should you engage in any thoughts or react to them. Observe the activity of your mind. Notice the complexity of thought and how at times it can be a ruler of our actions and emotions and sometimes this may cause suffering.
As time passes remind yourself not to engage with the activity of the mind. Just watch the thoughts entering and leaving the mind. By allowing the thoughts to just pass through the mind mental activity will reduce. This will bring awareness to how unnecessarily busy the mind usually is.
Enjoy discovering your mind and learning to tame it a little (if required), this will help to connect you with your feelings and encourage you to trust your instincts.
Take time to let go of the ramblings of the mind and focus on the energy of the heart centre. Always practice within the safety of your yoga mat first.
Yoga 2 Hear audio Meditation classes and sessions will provide you with all the tools and techniques needed to calm a restless mind.