Why is observation important?

by Catherine Haylock

Where does your mind go during a yoga class? Are you thinking of your next meal, coffee, or any tasks that you need to do after the class? Or are you looking at the others in the room, comparing your flexibility and strength to them? Does it make you feel motivated or frustrated? Or are you spacing out, yawning at the teacher without noticing it?

You can tell this is not helping your yoga practice or your peace of mind.

So here is a better solution:

Why don’t you stop your inner chatterbox and direct your efforts to a more nourishing place? Instead of jumping from one thought to the next, start to observe, and you will be surprised what you can figure out about yourself.

What is the power of oberservation?

When you are in a posture, which is super uncomfortable or demanding, and you are busy thinking, “When is it over! This feels forever! I’ll never take this class again!” Whilst you are debating with yourself if you should give up or just longing for it to be over, try to redirect these efforts and you will see that these postures can be fun, with the side effect that you will learn a lot about yourself.

How to employ the power of oberservation?

Instead of looking for exit strategies, stick with it and become the observer. See why it is uncomfortable, why do you feel it is demanding, where does it hurt, and how you can make it more sustainable?

Experiment with your breath

When you notice discomfort, stick with it and focus on lengthening your breath, soften your breath. Does anything change? Does your internal dialog change? Does the pain change?

Experiment with your sensations

When you are in a posture, observe the sensations in your body. For example, this could be a stretch in the back of your legs in a forward bend or shaking legs in Navasana, the boat posture, fighting to keep those legs up in the air. Again, instead of quitting the posture, observe that sensation and see if the quality of the sensation changes. Maybe the stretch becomes less, or a tingle is added to it. Stay with your attention on them. And then see how the mind reacts. What narrative comes up initially, and how does the internal wording change when you allow time for the sensations to change.

Find out how your mind works, your patterns, how you think and react to your thinking, and what emotions are triggered by your thoughts.