Whether you’re looking to bring a greater sense of awareness to your practice with a focus on breathwork, or you’re working on your observation skills to feel more present as you flow through poses, incorporating mindful meditation techniques into your yoga practice is good for both the mind, body and soul.
Beyond improving flexibility, strength and posture, research shows* that applying meditation to your yoga routine can help restructure the brain in ways that lead to better concentration, compassion and a calmer sense of self. The longer you spend applying these mindful techniques to your practice, the more you will be able to cultivate greater mind-body awareness and give your routine a sense of purpose.
The beauty of incorporating mindful techniques into your existing yoga routine is that the habits you pick up along the way are often transferrable, and can be used across a whole plethora of yoga styles. Favoured among hatha yoga in particular, once you learn the basic ways in which you can add more mindfulness to your yoga routine, you can apply these to any class you wish to explore.
Keep reading as we walk you through the fundamentals of applying mindfulness to your practice, as well as share a number of our favourite poses designed to help you create your own relaxing routine. But first, below, we answer some of our frequently asked questions on the benefits of adapting a more mindful practice.
While there’s no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to answering this question, as there are a number of different yoga practices that vary in style and purpose, the short answer to this question is yes – the majority of yoga practices incorporate some form of mindfulness in one way or another.
Some specific practices, such as Kundalini Yoga, are heavily reliant on meditation techniques, as Kundalini is a physical form of meditation that blends movements with breathing and mantras. Whereas more traditional yoga practices, such as Hatha Yoga, offer a more subtle focus on mindfulness, to the point where yogis may not realise they’re incorporating mindful techniques in their practice.
Mindfulness in a nutshell, is a simple way of training yourself to simply focus on whatever is happening in the present moment. For example, in Hatha Yoga, the yogi is meant to focus, or bring awareness to their movements and breath as they hold specific yoga poses. As a result, these actions are performed with a heightened sense of focus and self of awareness, which transforms your standard yoga movement into a form of meditation.
Regardless of your preferred practice, be it Hatha, Kundalini, Yin Yoga or Iyengar, each of these practices rely on you being present in the moment. Whether it’s counting breaths, holding a pose for a specific amount of time, or focussing on ways to move from one pose to another, this increased alertness and sense of focus in itself is a key form of mindfulness.
What are the top benefits of mindful yoga?
1. Greater self awareness
Adopting mindful habits through your yoga practice will ultimately lead to an improvement in self awareness. For example, the next time you’re practicing yoga, try to check in with your body through different stages of your flow.
Taking a moment to check in with your body through different stages of your practice allows yogis to register where they feel a sensation. Whether it’s a tug or pull if you’re leaning into a pose too hard, or a slight burn as you hold a certain pose – this process of checking in with your body and aligning both your mind and movements allows yogis to adjust themselves accordingly based on how the body feels. Though it seems a simple exercise, this process allows you to align both your body and mind, all while gradually heightening your sense of self-awareness.
2. Deepens a personal relationship with yoga
Another benefit of incorporating mindful techniques into your routine, is that it can bring a deeper meaning to your yoga practice.
For many, yoga is often a form of exercise that can help to improve strength, flexibility and mobility. However, as you begin to align both your mind and body through your yoga practice, the positive mental benefits can bring a greater sense of purpose to your yoga routine.
It is these mindful moments that act as a bridge between the practice of yoga and the practice of meditation, allowing you to benefit from the best elements of both. Whether this evolves into multiple yoga routines; a regular vinyasa flow or a restorative nighttime practice designed to help you unwind, each time you commit to a routine movement you’re deepening your personal connection with yoga.
3. Improves life on and off the mat
Both yoga and mindfulness aim to quieten the mind, which is a core skill that can be transferred into your everyday life.
Once you master the ability to tune into your thoughts and approach things with a mindful manner, you can apply these basic techniques to your everyday life. Whether it’s taking a moment to check in with how you currently feel at work, or you take a mindful moment to focus on breathwork if you find yourself feeling restless or agitated, the more we pay attention to our bodily sensations, the easier it is to bring mindfulness into your life both on and off the mat.
Ways to bring more mindfulness to the mat
The Savasana pose is often incorporated into the beginning or the end of a practice. As this pose involves yogis lying on their back with feet apart and arms at your side, it’s a great pose to help relax and unwind. Whether it’s a few mindful breaths in savasana before your practice, or you’re resting in this pose after your practice to focus on your breathing, Savasana allows you to surrender your whole weight and release tension you may be holding on to.
2. Incorporate yoga props into your routine
There are plenty of yoga props and accessories available at Yogamatters that can help bring a greater sense of relaxation to your practice, creating the perfect environment to practise a more mindful approach to yoga. Here at Yogamatters, we particularly love our collection of organic cotton blankets. Made in simple and sophisticated colourways to instil a sense of calm, our range of organic blankets can blend seamlessly into existing interiors, as well as doubling up as a prop suitable for all types of yoga.
If you’re looking for more inspiration on how to use a yoga mat, our Understanding Props: How to use a yoga blanket series helps shine light on the best ways to incorporate a blanket in your practice.
Better still, each of our yoga blankets are crafted from pure, 100% organically grown cotton, and by choosing to purchase one of our Yogamatters blankets, it allows you to make a more mindful investment. As pledging to shop pure organic cotton is an environmentally conscious alternative to traditional blankets.
Our Organic Cotton Bolsters also work to mould to the contours of your body, which encourage complete release and relaxation in your yoga routine, freeing the mind and allowing you to be more in tune with your body.
3. Read recommended mindful yoga books
The Practice of Mindful Yoga by Hannah Moss makes for a great addition to any yogi’s bookshelf. Exploring the fundamentals of yoga and how simple breathwork can become a bridge between yoga and mindfulness, this book is a self-discovery journey that shines light on the benefits of mindful yoga.
Breath: The Essence of Yoga by Sandra Sabatini also explores the notions of how a greater focus on breathwork can help you reconnect with your body. Leading to feelings of renewed energy, greater calmness and a clarity of mind, this book is perfect for yogis of all levels and offers inspiring suggestions that will help you develop a natural appreciation for mindful yoga.
4. Build your own sacred space
Life is full of distractions and to really benefit from a more mindful yoga routine, we would suggest creating a calming environment to help you relax. Whether you carve out a small space in your living room, bedroom or even a garden space – creating a place where you can go to fully commit to your practice will allow you to feel more connected to your flow.
Below, you can find a list of recommendations to act as a source of inspiration when it comes to building your own sacred space:
Create an atmosphere of rest and relaxation with our collection of hand-poured vegan soy wax candles at Yogamatters. Scented with natural ingredients, whether you opt for a calming lavender or an uplifting orange blossom, each of our pure essential oils are expertly blended to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Designed to help you sink further into your mindful yoga practice, our range of eye pillows and sandbags are designed to help stimulate the senses. Infused with natural lavender oils for relaxation, the gentle weight of the linseed in our eye pillows helps the muscles around the eyes soften and relax whilst the lavender scent aids sleep and deep rest.
Mindful Gifts & Accessories at Yogamatters
Whether you’re looking to deepen your personal connection with your practice, or you’re wanting to gift a fellow yogi who you believe would benefit from more mindful moments, our curated collection of mindful gifts and accessories at Yogamatters has something for everyone. From supportive cushions to bring comfort, to invigorating candles with natural oils to help relax and unwind, shop our full range of mindful gifts online.