Get out of your head with yoga

Snowdrops
Get out of your head and notice the beautiful things around you (Photo credit: Stella Tomlinson)

… but I’m not talking about finding oblivion – far from it.

Get out of your head and into your heart, your body, your true self, find your own voice, connect…

I find all of this, and more, in my yoga practice.

Dealing with the chattering monkeys

But it’s important to be gentle and compassionate with ourselves with this. I know that my “chattering monkeys”, my judging voice, can really get on my nerves sometimes. Telling me “ooh, you shouldn’t have said that” or “no way, you can’t do that!” or “that person should have blah blah blah…”

And it’s precisely when I get annoyed with it (and myself, because surely I should be a calm and serene yogini by now shouldn’t I?!) that it gets all the louder. Because I’m resisting it. I’m judging it and myself. I’m giving it energy – negative energy.

Stop thinking and start feeling

I’m learning to stop thinking for a few moments and to start feeling. I focus on my breath and notice the thoughts rather than following them. I name them: “judging”, “worrying”, or “planning ahead” in a gentle and non-judging way.

Often, when I get really tied up in knots in my head, my breathing becomes shallow and my throat becomes tense. I consciously breathe and let go of that tension. Then I breathe a little deeper. I then find I come out of my head and into a more integrated sense of myself. The monkeys’ chatter becomes less insistent.

How I get out of my head

Here are some of the methods I use to get out of my head and connect with whole self:

Focus on my breath – sigh out the breath. Let go. Become aware of how I’m breathing. Close my eyes and just be for a few moments.

Focus on my body – stop and notice if and where I’m holding tension. Sometimes I’m able to let it go. Other times not, and I need to let it settle, name it and see what happens.

Focus on movement – I have a tendency to hurry around everywhere so, sometimes when I notice I’m rushing around too busy in my head to notice what’s going on around me, I deliberately slow down, and notice my feet touching the ground as I walk. I lift my sternum and raise my gaze from the floor and look around me. And I bring this focus in my asana practice – feeling my body how it is today and how it moves.

Chant mantra – I’ve loved chanting since introduced to it by my first yoga teacher. It engages and focuses my mind. I find something blissful about it. It has a physical effect – I can feel the sound vibrations through my body. If I’m at home I’ll chant as I sit or go around my business. If I’m out and about I’ll chant silently in my head – it’s calming.

Take a few moments

We can all help ourselves by remembering that we’re not just the voice in our heads giving us a running commentary on us and our lives.

If you take a few moments each day to get out of your head, it could make such a difference to your life. It has to mine.

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