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Where's the Mental Conditioning?

I have taught a lot of yoga classes in my life. Before every class, I ask the students, "what do you want to work on today?" Almost every time, they ask to teach them an advanced posture or to work on a specific part of the body like shoulders or hips. Rarely am I asked for breathwork techniques or questions about creating mental stillness.

Where are the questions about mental fitness? Why are we so constantly fixated on challenging the body when what really needs conditioning is the mind? Are both mind and body not required for life's journey? The mind is like a rider on a horse which is the body. If the horse is not strong, well-fed, trained, or abused, the rider will not travel far. At some point, the body will diminish, regardless of how much we work it, leaving us with an untrained, weak mind.

Here are a few basic tips and techniques to help you start to train your mind.

Long Breath 4x8 Pranayama Technique

This type of breath uses the lungs' total capacity in both the inhalation and the exhalation, slowly, with no rush. It is generally done through the nose because it aids in breath control.

· Promotes increases in the flow of oxygen in the body, promoting healing and relaxation

· Helps to avert and reduce the build-up of toxins in the lungs.

· Stimulates the production of endorphins, brain chemicals, to fight depression.

· Expands the lung capacity, which builds concentration, patience, lung tissue flexibility, and resistance.

· Increases the secretion of the pituitary gland, the "Master Gland," which regulates hormone activity in other endocrine glands and organs.

Mindfulness Techniques

· Here & Now: There are plenty of ways to do this below. An essential tip is to stop comparing the present with the past and focus on what's good here in the present moment. It might be as simple as being grateful for your morning coffee or the good weather. It could also be as simple as focusing your attention on a task you're doing.

· Meditation: Sure, meditation a common suggestion that is challenging to the most advanced "sitter." As humans, we falsely believe we must get "better" at doing everything and that if we aren't improving, then we are failing. We create unrealistic expectations for our sits. When we sit in meditation, we need to expect nothing. Tip: set a timer for 3 minutes. Focus on calming your breath and mind in those 3 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

Always focus on the HERE & NOW. That's all there is.

~ Andrew

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About Andrew

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At the age 17, through the guidance of his older brother Chris, he discovered the path of Buddhism. His journey with the practice has taken him across oceans and deep within himself. As a Zen bodhisattva, he works towards helping others find their own path without reward.


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