Mindfulness…..Try to wrap your mind around that one.  Such a popular word these days but what does it mean as a practice?  Defined it is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.  I’ll share with you some tips on mindfulness including mindfulness practices.  

Journal Exercise
The Two-Minute Tooth Brushing
Our dentists always recommend brushing our teeth for two minutes allowing the entire mouth to get clean, scrubbing away tooth decay and bringing on fresh breath.  Well here’s something you can do while brushing your teeth.  Take those two minutes to observe your body as you brush.  Do you lean to one side or the other, hold a shoulder up, lean forward? Is your breath shallow, rapid, long or full?  Are you pacing as you brush, dancing, swaying, staying still?  Just observing during this short time can bring on a mindful approach.  Sometimes it is just easier to observe the physical body rather than delve right into the thoughts and feelings going on.   If you care to, journal your observations.  Take it to the next level and observe your body language as you have a conversation with someone else.

The Breath
2 to 1 Breath or Extended Exhalation

A basic breath that you can take anywhere when you need to.  Lengthening the exhale kicks the parasympathetic nervous system up a notch, allows more space between thoughts, eliminates more waste and toxins from the body and allows the body to settle more.   Much like the Equal Breath, we use a count to inhale but then we exhale for double that count.  Find a comfortable seat or lay down on the floor, hands can be placed on the belly or wherever they are comfortable.  Begin with the inhale to a count of 2, then exhale for a count of 4.  Slightly constrict your back of throat as you exhale (similar to Ujjayi breath). As you practice and progress in deepening your breath, perhaps the counts will get longer.

Lengthening the exhalation and pausing after the exhalation invokes a feeling of profound quiet and stillness.

The Poses
Wide Angle Forward Fold with Chair

At Desk Variation

Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets
Benefits: releases the pelvis which can help release tension in the buttocks, hips, belly and lower back.  Quiets the organs of digestion and elimination. Opens lower back area. As head rests on bolster, releases tension in frontalis where we hold stress in contracted state. Cooling and calming to overall body and provides a nice transition from day. Can help with sleep.

Sit in front of the chair and extend legs to straddle outside of chair. Option to extend legs straight out between legs of the chair. You will straddle the props bringing them in as close to your body as possible to support you as you forward fold.   To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Can add blanket rolls under the knees. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes. 
*note that for some students the breath can be constrained. Practice belly breaths to begin with.

Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddhakonasana)

Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. 
Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows or rolled-up blankets), 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow

Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees)  If you are using a strap, with it around your waist, extend it to wrap around the outside of the soles of the feet. Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment.  Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.

Savasana with Guided Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep)
Supported on two double-folded blankets, arms resting in a comfortable position, covered possibly in a blanket, neck supported with roll.

Mindfulness Guides and More Exercises (Uh Play)

Join Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society, in this workshop at Google.  Mindfully, peruse the Internet for more information. 

Jon Kabat-Zinn leads a Mindfulness Meditation at Google

Check out this site for more Mindfulness Exercises.  Some of them seem downright fun but approach without competing with oneself.  Just by trying them out will increase your mindfulness.