One of the life lessons that I mentioned last week was “perspective is a beautiful thing”. Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the big picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing. The fight we’re having or the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. It won’t matter years from now so unless it is life threatening then let it go and move on.
Thinking differently and having an open mind or changing your perspective on things can help to understand and respect another person’s point of view. It can also make us more self-aware and more adaptable. Yoga can encourage us to change perspective. When we are in the present moment in yoga, our mind is incredibly focused and there is no room for distraction, negative viewpoints or closed mindedness.
The importance of stillness
When working on changing perspective, a wonderful tool in your yoga practice is stillness, a great relaxation technique if you’re wondering how to calm your mind. When in stillness we can focus our full awareness on the breath, we can slow the breath and calm the mind into a sleep like state and find peace as our body and mind completely relax. Every movement we make requires energy and input from us so by being still we can rest and conserve our energy. Meditation allows us time in complete stillness and for ideas and thoughts to become second and inferior. Yoga poses bring us to stillness, for beautiful quiet moments within a flow or holding for longer periods of time as our focus comes to the breath.
Be in the moment
Practising yoga and becoming more mindful puts us into the here and now, rather than planning for the future or reflecting on the past, as we so very often do. Try some gentle side stretches to align the spine and Cobblers Forward Fold to settle the mind and ground the body.
Turn it upside down
Inverted poses physically change perspective, taking you upside down. They have many other benefits too including easing back pain, kicking out stress, easier breathing, improved core strength and a healthier heart! Hare Pose is a gentle supported inversion while Dolphin Pose is a challenging upper body workout so great for building strength. Shoulder stand is a nurturing pose that can rebalance the mind so is great after a hard day. If Shoulder Stand is not for you yet, try taking your legs up a wall for a supported version.
Choose to be calm
Believe it or not, you have a choice. If your life is busy and hectic, carve out the time to do what makes you feel peaceful and calm. Once you feel calm the world looks a bit brighter and things naturally fall into perspective. Standing Forward Folds promote a sense of peace and calm in the mind and body so are great when you need time to unwind. Try with wide legs and simply hang or hold the elbows for a restful option or bind the hands behind you to add a shoulder stretch.
Let your energy flow
Yoga creates a positive flow of energy through the breath. Releasing Breath encourages us to release tension, let go of negative emotions and reduce closed mindedness. Alternate Nostril Breathing helps us to achieve balance, which in turn creates a levelheaded way of thinking. Belly Breathing creates a calming effect, encouraging more oxygen to come into the body. When we are calm, we think more rationally. Flowing through postures in time with the breath lets you become aware of yourself. Many yoga poses have detoxifying (twists) or releasing (hip openers) qualities that allow us to expel toxins and let go of emotions.
Find your inner strength
Balancing poses encourage a focused mind, particularly more challenging balancing poses as these draw on inner strength and allow you to push your limits. Tree Pose looks much easier than it is! Remember to choose a gaze point (drishti) for the eyes and come into the pose slowly. Crow Pose is a great pose for improving determination. Use your core and keep looking forward to maintain your balance.
A positive outlook
Chest opening poses create space, release tension and promote a positive outlook helping us to be more open-minded and compassionate of other people’s views. Wild Thing Pose is a great pose for opening up and improving mood. Camel and Cobra are two other great heart openers.