So, you’ve meant to take your yoga practice more earnestly during this pandemic? There are online subscription sites with talented teachers who bring the highest quality of yoga into your home. Yet, you struggle with putting the phone down, closing the laptop, saying no to extra work around the house, or turning off the TV. You have a hard time carving out the time to be fully present for your practice.
If you have a hard time balancing screen time and stay present with online yoga classes, you are not alone. Listen, It’s time to pause, relax a moment, even close your eyes, and sit with this question, “What am I connecting to?” Yoga, in its most tangible form, is connectivity. Connectivity is the state of being connected or interconnected—connectivity to the heart, breath, body, and mind. Yoga is finding inner peace in a world that challenges your sense of peace, continually challenging the calmness you feel in your mind-body.
Trust me, and I get you. I have been thinking about this topic of screen time distraction a lot lately. Besides teaching yoga, I also hold a day job where I am knee-deep with notifications from my phone, email inbox, or obsessively watching the clock to attend to my next meeting. I like to stay on top of my messages and respond promptly to whoever is looking for me. Some days I feel slightly neurotic for this. On top of that, working from home also add another layer of distractions related to anything around the house.
With the modern world’s hyper-connectivity, our attention spans are increasingly shorter, constantly competing against cell-phone pings and many other things. But our attention span doesn’t have to be under constant attack, and we have to work diligently and persistently to allow quiet time of the mind. Yoga is defined in the Yoga Sutras as “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha,” meaning Yoga is the cessation of the mind’s fluctuations to experience ultimate reality and self-realization.
By no means is this an easy task with a flip of a switch. It is a process, and it is a practice—the practice of being fully present.
There are pillars to yoga and an eight-limbed path worth exploring for life-time guidance to connect with this ultimate reality. Learning yoga is life-long, so do not feel rushed by any means. Every practice starts with an intention, beginning today before your online yoga class, start by being fully present on your mat with just yourself for five minutes. If you are seated on your yoga mat, notice how your body connects to the mat. If you stand up, feel your feet connection points and see how your body stacks up on your yoga mat. It doesn’t matter if you are not moving yet. What do matters is slowing down and feel the space around you. It matters to take the time to study your being’s current state and be aware of the energy inside of your body. Are you still connected to the last topic of your work meeting? Or thoughts with the previous text you read from your phone? Parking your to-do list on the side is essential to prepare yourself to be present for your yoga practice’s healing effects.
Let’s face it. Our reality is increasingly overwhelmed with technology. We’re often in a hurry, trying to go somewhere as fast as we can, hopping from tab to tab, app to app, message to message, and places. There will always be challenges to our focus, competing forces for our attention.
Being present is a daily practice. It’s a daily choice to connect to ourselves and the universal teachings along the yogic path. It’s a daily practice of being present to our needs and giving ourselves the joy of having a yoga practice.
Here are five tips to be fully present for your yoga class:
- Remember your why. How do you feel once you’ve taken time for a class with no distraction? Tapping into the more profound benefits of your yoga practice helps build the discipline for consistent presence.
- Start small. Be clear on how much time you have. Stick to those boundaries as best as you can. If sitting down for a 60 or 75 minutes class is unrealistic, let yourself be present for a 15 or 20-minute lesson. Yoga class is sequenced with an arc structure approach to integrating the body and mind at the end of practice.
- Set your phone on Do Not Disturb if you can and silence all your desktop notifications.
- Clean and set your yoga space before you start. Remove any random objects around your mat, lighting a candle, or spritzing some room spray.
- Set up an online yoga date with a friend! You can choose the same class to take, enjoy it at the same time within your own homes. Call each other after the class and talk about how it was for you! Especially with prolonged social distancing and time outside of studio community centers, creating community, accountability, and support is increasingly important.
In this age, where there is an overwhelming amount of websites, tabs, and portals to be explored, I invite you to spend time more within yourself and off-screen time. Explore the weather inside your heart, and it will shift the sense of connectivity to the outside world. A deeper connection with yourself will alter how you connect to messages, information, work, and people on the other side of the ever-present screens.
By Ariana Brandao
September 16, 2020