To be in the present moment is the cornerstone of yoga philosophy. Actually, outside the present moment, nothing is real. But somehow, even as an experienced yogi, you often find yourself dwelling in the past or daydreaming about the future.
This kind of past and future thinking is somewhat normal in our modern lives. We need to revise the lessons of the past in order to make sure that we don’t repeat them. Also, we need to make plans for the future so we can deal with the practical aspects of our lives.
But how much of our time is actually lost because we keep playing on repeat some unimportant past experiences or we dream about an illusory future? According to a survey, more than half of our time is wasted this way.
So, instead of indulging in time-eating thinking patterns, jump into your yoga pants and turn your yoga workout into a mindfulness practice. From all the types of yoga practices out there, I am sure you will find the ones that will keep you in the present moment effortlessly.
This type of effortless presence while doing a physical workout is called flow. The term was used for the first time by Mihaly, a pioneer of positive psychology, but the concept and its meaning have been around for millennia in the yoga teachings. Traditionally, the right mindfulness is the seventh part of the Eightfold Path of Buddhism. Together with the Right Effort and Right Concentration, they form the mental development that releases us from suffering. While in flow, all you experience is the present moment, and rarely there is any suffering in the present. Most of the suffering comes from past and future predictions.
Flow is defined as a state of mental peak where we feel our best and we perform our best. You can experience flow daily every time you are engaged in a yoga workout. For this particular state of mind to occur, certain aspects have to be present:
- A sense of control over the activity. In a yoga practice, you can control everything: the practice, the pace, the clothes and yoga apparel, the time, the place, etc;
- Immediate feedback. You can instantly know if your pose is correct or not, either by looking in a mirror or checking with your partner or teacher; this way, your mind doesn’t wander off looking for feedback.
- The challenge/skill ratio. Flow is in the midline between boredom and anxiety. Don’t stress about not being able to do a particularly hard pose, but do a pose that is just beyond your skill level.
- Clear goals. Maybe this time you will be able to do that headstand for 5 minutes. From completing a full workout to setting a time for a pose, make your workout goals clear.
Next time you do yoga, make sure that follow these guidelines so you can experience flow.