"Yoga is stopping the mind from becoming involved in activities that distract one from a chosen direction." TKV Desikachar (T Krishnamacharaya's son).
Five Yogic Practices to help control the fluctuating mind.
Anything can be the object of your meditation, but to help the fluctuations of the mind, it would be advisable to focus on one thing that is preferably calming for you and also repetitive.
Some examples include:
(Sit comfortably – eyes closed usually helps)
- Follow the natural flow of your breath with your awareness.
- Count the breaths 1 up to 10 and then start over (inhale 1, exhale 1, inhale 2, exhale 2…).
- Scan your awareness around your body, starting at one foot and possibly encouraging each body part to relax. (Try and time it, so that you haven’t finished the scan in 3 mins if you plan to meditate for 10).
Meditate for as long or often as you wish (twice a day is beneficial).
Integrate this quality of paying attention into your daily lives.
Sama Vrtti – Equal Breathing
Sama = Equal
Vrtti = Fluctuations/Movements of the mind or breath
- Begin in a relaxed upright position.
- Relax the hands on the thighs.
- Create an even ratio in the breath between the inhalation and exhalation.
- Eventually, hold the breath on the retention of the inhalation and the retention of the exhalation, equal to the in-breath and the out-breath.
- Practise for as long as feels comfortable.
- When finishing, return to your natural breathing rhythm for a minute or two.
Four Parts of Sama Vrtti Breath
- Puruka – Inhalation
- Antara Kumbhaka – Retention of Inhalation
- Rechaka – Exhalation
- Bahya Kumbhaka – Retention of Exhalation
Breathe with an even ratio of all parts of the breath. Maybe build from 2:2:2:2 up to 6:6:6:6.
MUDRA (Hand gesture)
“Vayu Mudra” – Air Gesture
Practising this mudra helps regulate and balance the air element within your body. Thus, helping control restlessness, nervousness and calms an uneasy mind.
In Sanskrit, vaju = air/wind/gas
In Ayurveda, it refers to the air element and “Vata” energy.
Pressing the thumb (fire element) down on the index finger (air element) helps remove excess wind and dryness in the body, restoring balance to your Vata energy.
- Take a comfortable seat, crossed-legged on the floor, or sit upright on a chair.
- Bring the index finger close to the base of the thumb, and fold the thumb over it.
- Keep the other three fingers extended and rest the backs of your hands on your legs.
- With eyes open or closed, meditate with this mudra.
- Practice for up to 30 mins per day.
(This mudra is also suitable for other physical symptoms related to Vata imbalance, from joint problems to sleeplessness and dizziness.)
- In a comfortable seated position, settle the body, breath and mind first; the above practices will help.
- Silently or vocally repeat the Mantra below (eyes closed or open).
Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah
Sounds like – Yogaha Chita Vrti Nirodaha
Other Mantras to explore
Om / Aum
Sounds like: Aahh-ooo-mmm
(Aum is the primordial sound of the universe, the sacred hum. It embodies the three states of the universal forces – creation/preservation/liberation and the three states of awareness – waking/sleeping/dreaming.)
Sounds like: Ah-hum brah-mahs-mee
(“I am divine.” It reflects the ultimate goal of yoga – union with the higher Self / Consciousness.)
Tat Tvam Asi
Sounds like: Taht t’vam ah-see)
(I see the other in myself and myself in others.)
When doing a postural practice, here are some things to work with.
- INTENTION – Set a heartfelt intention for the practice connected to whatever deeper meaning you are practising for. Whether you are flowing or still in a pose, hold your attention on your intention. To help integrate this intention into your practice, you can repeat it with the breath, e.g. Inhale “Steady Breath”, exhale “Steady Mind.”
- BREATH – Be mindful of the breath; 4 counts for the inhale, 4 counts for the exhale. Connect the breath to the body – use it in different ways; let the breath lead the movement, let it build up heat within the body and give you strength, let it assist you in creating more length and space, let it help calm your heart rate, let it help you soften and surrender.
- GAZE (Drishti) – Focus your gaze upon one point. Examples, gaze to; thumbs when hands are overhead in Anjali Mudra; or middle fingertip of front hand in Warrior Two; or tip of nose or space between the eyebrows in Upward-Facing Dog.
- EMBODIMENT – Feel the body when in the pose, all the way down to your toes up to the crown of your head. Listen to the sensory feedback to help you deepen the postures or ease off for safety. Also, fully embody your “Intention” for the practice.
- MIND – Direct your attention to any of the above points. Either one can be your object of focus. What is key, is that when you are distracted and get lost in thought, you are mindful of this. And re-direct your attention to something more helpful and more connected to the practice.
"Citta Vritti Nirodah is the state of mind in which no distractions arise from undesirable external stimuli, and the individual is able to choose an object of focus..." T Krishnamacharya
Hopefully, after reading this post and working with the above practices regularly, your yoga practice will deepen and you will find greater steadiness in mind, body and heart.
If you missed the previous post, which explores Patanjali’s Sutra 1:2 (Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah), which refers to this whirlpool of a mind that we are trying to calm, then click the button below…