Calming the Monkey Mind

My first love in yoga was hot yoga, and it remains the style I practice most frequently. I love settling into a familiar sequence and being able to see my progress from day to day. The hot, sweaty room has become a soothing part of my early morning ritual.

Earlier this week, I set up my mat early for my regular hot yoga practice, did a few gentle stretches, and then laid back and let my mind begin to drift. The room filled up and the instructor brought us to standing to begin our practice.

As we started our warm up, I quickly realized that I saw standing right next to 'that guy'. You know the type: constantly fidgets, leaves the room frequently, and is basically disruptive. He was annoying, and I was a little worried I might get punched or kicked, but I was there to have a nice, meditative practice. So, I shut him out of my mind and refocused on my practice.

As we entered our balancing series, I took a deep breath and recommitted to a steady, internal focus. I was pleased to find myself holding the long poses rather than getting distracted and stumbling out. I had to remind myself several times to breathe and refocus throughout practice, but in the end I had a great practice and really felt the different poses in my body.

We all come across the occasional yoga practice that isn't ideal for one reason or another. Since you can't change your situation, I would like to suggest changing your mindset. Rather than allowing the "monkey mind" to step in and take you on a ride, consider taking a deep breath, giving yourself a knowing smile, and focusing on what you can control: you. Your practice that day might not be perfect, but you will have strengthened your ability to thrive in difficult situations, and that's something that can definitely be useful off the mat!

Please talk back: how have you brought your monkey mind under control?

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