Mindfulness is being alert and conscious in each moment. It’s an age-old practice that is being introduced more and more into the most unlikely of places – schools, work spaces, cars and all those in-between moments.
When practiced enough, mindfulness can be stretched into each and every moment; the conversations, the interactions, the doings and the beings.
Yoga is a wonderful opportunity to practice mindfulness. Yoga is a time for focus, calm and awareness – all of which are key in mindfulness
Combine your yoga practice with mindfulness as a perfect remedy for those times when you feel ‘whelmy’, stressed and anxious.
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Mindfulness yoga sequence
As you move through this sequence, be mindful of the breath.
Listen to it closely
and let your focus (or meditation) be on that of the sound of the breath as well as
the sensations that arise through these simple movements.
1. Hero’s pose
Stretching the quads (thighs), tops of feet and ankles and lengthening
the spine. It’s also good for sitting in after a main meal to aid digestion.
1. Come into a kneeling posture, sitting on top of your heels. If this feels too
intense (remembering that a little bit of intensity is ok and only trains us
to be mentally resilient) you can place a block (as pictured) underneath
the sit bones to take the pressure off.
2. Place your hands in lap, lengthen the tail bone toward towards the earth
and effortlessly lift through the entire spine.
3. Broaden your collar bones so that the shoulder blades kiss towards each
other gently and you feel a broadness across the chest.
4. Stay for a minute or so – following simply the very gentle rhythm of your
2. Child’s pose - Balasana
Easing lower back ache and tightness as well as opening into the inner
thighs, groin and chest.
It’s the perfect place in this sequence to further develop
your breath and begin to lengthen it into the lower lobes of the lungs which
activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is what gives us that super
chilled, ‘yoga stoned’ effect after a moving meditation or yoga class.
1. From hero’s pose, split the knees a little wider than hip distance apart and
stretch your arms out in front.
2. Rest your forehead on the earth (or on the block if it doesn’t come all the
way down). If you had the sit bones on a block in the first posture, feel
how it feels here. If you don’t need it – remove.
3. Soften your shoulders down the back and begin to take slightly deeper
breaths in and out of the nose. Imagine the breath moving in from the tips
of the nostrils, through the back of the throat and down into the very base
of your lungs. It may even help you to visualise the breath as a thread and
give it a colour. It’s a mindfulness tool to keep you present.
4. If you’re used to practicing an ‘Ujjayi’ breath, allow for a slight
constriction in the throat (or glottis) to create that sea-like, oceanic sound
in the back of the throat – this stimulates and calms the nervous system.
Stay a minute or so.
Yoga poses for mindfulness
3. Seated moving meditation
Experiencing meditation through simple movement and further developing the breath. With these arms movements we lengthen the side waist and spine, begin the stretch lightly the intercostal muscles as well as chest and shoulders.
1. From child’s pose, lift yourself slowly and make your way into a cross
legged posture (you can prop yourself onto the block again if you start to
round the spine or slouch through the spine)
2. Start with hands at heart to close down your eyes and come in close
contact with the rhythm of your breath again. Stay for a few moments
until feeling grounded.
3. Inhale take your arms out to the side and then up above the head.
4. Exhale your arms out to the side and then back behind you to interlace
the hands at the small of your back.
5. Inhale your knuckles and down and back whilst staying for the exhalation.
6. Inhale the arms out and up above head again, exhale the hands back
through centre to heart again.
Repeat this moving meditation 3-5 times.
4. Easy sit forward fold
Stretching the hips, glutes and lower back. And – when coupled with breath work can be great for the digestive system.
1. From the seated meditation cross the right leg in front of the left (unless it
already is) and move your heels away from your hips so that when you
look down there is an upside-down triangle shape.
2. Flex your feet (dorsi flex at ankles so that toes curl back and in towards
3. Grounding through your sit bones, inhale lift your arms out and up.
4. Exhale, keeping length through your spine, tilt forward from your hips
and place hands shoulder distance apart in front.
5. Each inhalation whilst down lengthens your spine and each exhalation we
draw the navel gently into the spine and up a little for that beautiful
internal rinsing effect which is great for digestion.
6. Stay five-10 breaths.
Come up slowly and switch sides (left leg in front)
5. Lateral bend
Lengthening the side waist and stretching the intercostal muscles which is a great way to de-stress, improve digestion and expand your breath capacity.
1. From your cross-legged posture, place your left hand down by your left
side and away from your hips a little.
2. As you inhale lift your right arm up above head and then over to the left
side so that you feel sensation all down the right side of the body.
3. Soften your shoulders and depending on intensity you would like, you
could place your left forearm on the ground and / or bend right elbow to
take hand behind head and lean back. Through this, however, endeavour
to keep both sit bones grounded.
4. Stay and breath five breaths.
Come up slowly and take a mindful moment to feel the sensations from that right
side dissolve and soften before taking the second side.
The pause between sides
and just after coming out of postures is powerful.
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Kate Kendall is the Co-Founder and Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic. Follow @activeyogi to be inspired to move into more shapes for better wellbeing.