The other day I was watching a Knicks game with my boyfriend and I noticed one of the best players on the team was starting to unravel. I could see in his face that he was losing focus and getting caught up in his head. He ended up missing too many shots, became frustrated as a result, and soon fouled out of the game.
This month begins the NCAA college basketball tournament. Although, I’m not usually interested in basketball I have become fascinated with the players and how they cope with their successes and frustrations on the court. If an NBA player is susceptible to letting himself get lost in his head during a game, I am sure that experience is only exacerbated with the college players. However, the question is really how they handle the frustration after the experience. How do they snap back into focus and be fully there for themselves and their fellow teammates?
By now you are probably asking yourself – what does this have to do with yoga? Well the same thing can happen in a yoga class, if you come in and allow your mind to run wild and lose focus on the breath, the postures, and what you are doing you won’t foul out of class, but you would lose the benefits of yoga stilling the mind or worse you could end up with an injury. When you come to a class, private or group, set an intention and try your best to stay present. We all have our days when we loose our focus and just can’t concentrate to save our selves, but this is all part of the practice. It is easy to focus when we feel great, we love the teacher, we love the postures – but the true practice comes when things are not so easy, when we have to break through the cloudiness of our minds and find the flexibility in our mental bodies to allow us the compassion and persistence to stay present.
Of course playing in a college or professional basketball game has that competitive difference that yoga doesn’t, but we end up competing with ourselves, or even others when we let ourselves. Next time you are in a class become a witness to yourself, and see what goes first – does your mind wander easily? What can you do to bring your mind back into the present?