Week One: Developing Mental Strength with Yoga

For the month of May, undertake this challenge with me to develop mental strength.  I will profile one pose each week.  The idea is that each week for the month you will practice a specific pose.  On a physical level you will agin the opportunity to become more aware of your body in the pose and certain areas that require attention.  On a mental level, we will work over the course of the month, to direct our focus in an effort to develop greater mental strength.

Mental strength can enable us to feel stress in the mind and act with focus rather than avoiding or hindering our progress in a reaction to stress.  Mental strength can enable us to make positive choices, to act in our best interests in tough situations, it can enable us with the strength to have power over sensual desires such as another piece of chocolate or another cigarette or another glass of wine...With greater mental strength we can feel stable through the ebbs and flows of our external environments and feel steady and grounded.  Mental strength can provide us with the skills to maintain focus in challenging situations e.g. in an exam or on an assignment, in a challenging interview or in a sporting environment, to not allow ourselves to become distracted and maintain our focus on a specific task.

WEEK ONE: This weeks pose is Virabhadrasana 1 or Warrior 1 pose.

Warrior 1.jpg

Each week try out the pose suggested or even as you practice the pose in a class bring the following activity to mind;

SET UP:

Take the form of Warrior 1 pose, encourage your front knee in the direction of your front toes and have weight equally spread over your back foot which is turned in 15 degrees.  Lengthen your arms and engage your navel towards your spine, hips are encouraged square to the front of the mat.  For a more detailed outline of the physicality of this pose, follow here

Choose a length of time to undertake the pose that will inject some stress i.e. 2-5 minutes

1. INTENTION-encourage your intention to keep attention on what your body is doing-breathing, relaxing into the pose, and encouraging proper form.

2. WITNESS- notice when your attention shifts from doing to thinking.  Your mind may create doubts about your ability to continue holding the pose.

3. DELAY- Dont react to the doubts.  Rather, stay in the pose with the stress and delay reacting. This allows space for awareness to develop.

4. DISSOCIATE OR REDIRECT ATTENTION- Coach yourself back to your intention and keep attention on your bodes process.

5. FIND LITTLE WAYS TO ENGAGE-Keep attention engaged in your body by making subtle shifts in posture or transferring weight for one leg to the other.

Throughout this exercise, we are trying to introduce the distraction of stress.  What distracting thoughts did you become aware of? Were you able to create a focus such as looking towards a spot on the wall or listening to a song to escape the stress?  Stress can be a major distraction of our attention in any challenging situation.  By witnessing your minds desire to escape stress, delaying this reaction and redirecting attention to your body, you can learn to process stress and stay committed.

Take notes on your experience, feel free to contact me and let me know how you are getting on and any questions you have.