One of the most beneficial ways to strengthen your mind and body connection and to get you ready to practice yoga.[2]

  • Prior to starting your yoga practice, sit quietly for about 10 minutes. Use this time to meditate prior to starting your practice. This quiet session can help prepare you to begin practicing on strengthening the mind-body connection.
  • Work on calming your mind prior to your exercise routine. Try to let the day, your “to-do” list or other issues drift away from your mind.
  • You may need to focus on your breath or a mantra you’ve developed for yourself. Practice letting go of thoughts as they arise and focus on your meditation.

Set an intention for your practice. This is another step of your yoga practice and is essential to allowing yoga to improve your mind-body connection. You can create and focus on your intention as you begin your practice with meditation. Keep in mind that you may not achieve your intention, but you can explore your relationship with it.

  • An intention is a conscious focus of something you’d like to work on. For example, patience, mindfulness, awareness of breath, or being present in the moment are intentions.[3]
  • While you move through each pose during your yoga practice, focus on your intention and try to embody it. You may even want to repeat it softly or silently as you move through different poses.
  • When you step off your mat after your practice has completed, continue to focus on your intention for the day. Try to make this a priority with how you act towards others and your mental state of mind.

Breathe with each pose.
 Proper breathing techniques are very important to an effective yoga practice—especially if you’re attempting to strengthen your mind and body connection. Focus on your breath and bring your attention to it during your practice.

  • If you are taking a yoga class or even following a video online, your instructor will most likely guide you on appropriate breathing techniques. Most poses that are contracting of a muscle group are accompanied by an exhaling of your breath. Those that are releasing of a muscle group are accompanied by inhaling.[4]
  • When you’re practicing yoga, you will be forced to focus on your breath. It’s important that you focus on the rate of your breathing and whether or not your breathing is deep or shallow. This forced focus can help strengthen the mind-body connection.
  • Even when you’re not practicing yoga, take time in your day to practice your breathing. Even if you spend two or three minutes focusing on deep, slow breathing, this can help extend the practice of strengthening your mind-body connection past your yoga mat.

Focus on the targeted muscles.
 Once you’ve focused your mind and set your intention, you’ll begin your practice. In addition to focusing on your breath during your practice also focus on your muscles. This solidifies the mind-body connection.

  • As you go through each pose, your yoga instructor will guide you on what muscles you should be contracting and which ones you should be relaxing. Use this as a guide on what to focus on.
  • When you’re in a pose, imagine what your muscles are doing. Focus on the individual muscle or muscle group that is being worked and try to focus and control that particular area.
  • Many times when you’re contracting a muscle group, its advised to think of that muscle hugging your bone. Or if you’re doing a lengthening pose, try to imagine the muscle being pulled into a long, toned form.

Practice, practice, practice. Like any type of physical activity, you’ll need to continue to practice with your yoga. In addition, it’ll take continued practice to strengthen your mind-body connection through yoga.

  • Most professionals will recommend doing yoga at least 2-3 times per week. This is appropriate for those who are beginners and even those who are advanced.
  • Start with a simple routine and continue to advance yourself over time as you become more proficient and your muscles become stronger.
  • Also continue to practice your meditations and intention. This can be even more difficult than the actual poses at first, but is just as important to improve over time.

End with corpse pose. Most, if not all, yoga practices will end with corpse pose, or Savasana. This pose, although easy to perform, can actually be quite challenging as this exercise totally focuses on the mind-body connection.[5]

  • Corpse pose is when you lie flat on the floor at the end of your yoga practice. You should work on quieting and focusing your mind. Many instructors say to focus on your intention for the day and concentrate on how you’re going to continue that intention outside of your yoga practice.
  • If you’re having trouble keeping your mind quiet or focused, repeat your intention like a mantra or focus on your breathing.
  • Aim to rest in corpse pose for 5-10 minutes at the end of each practice. Spend this time working on your relationship with yourself and listening to your inner voice.

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