Yoga has been helping me with tennis lately. I recently started playing again after 10 years being off the court, and yoga is keeping me present and grounded while in the game. As the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say: Yogas citta vrtti nirodihah (yoga is the controlling of the fluctuations on the mind), and tennis has become a yoga practice of quieting my mind.
At times during the tennis game I’ll think of something I need to do later or something I want to tell my opponent and I miss the shot because I was distracted. When that happens I pause, bring my attention back and tell myself to just hit the ball. All of the excess chatter of my mind disturbs the peace of the game.
In a yoga posture we can use the dristhi (gaze) to focus our mind. When our eyes are focused on one point our minds narrow to ekagraha (a one pointed focus). The same can be applied to a tennis game. I find I’m loving playing the game now that I clear my head of the excess chatter and keep my focus on the present moments. In the past I would get so frustrated by a missed shot that I would throw set after set. Now I use the tennis ball as a concentration point and let it cancel out the excess thoughts. Of course I still get a little upset when I loose points, but overall I’m having fun and enjoying the game!
Live Light Practice:
Candle gazing meditation will help to hone in the skills and practice of ekagraha (one pointed focus). Tratak or candle gazing meditation brings the mind to a one pointed focus. Where the eyes go the mind follows, so as you bring your eyes to fix on one point your mind also fixes on one point. For this meditation you will need a candle, matches, and blankets. Seat yourself onto two blanks in suhkasana (easy posture) or a chair. Have the candle lit in front of you. This candle gazing meditation is inviting in ekagraha (single pointed focus). Allow your eyes to have a soft gaze on the candle flame, with your attention guided to that one point allow the breath to flow evening in and our your nose. Practice this meditation every evening for one week for 5-10 minutes.