Where to focus during yoga

I have a general question that has always puzzled me. I find often that my mind wanders during yoga and instead of focusing on the stretches. I am looking for some advice as to where to place my mental focus.

Breath, the particular area being stretched, chakra, overall body, whatever works best for me?



  • Frankly, I find it helpful to accept the fact that the mind is supposed to wander! That way you can stop contending - perhaps the most important step on the way. Once you stop contending, you can find the way that matches your nature best.

    In the end, the only thing that works is paying attention to what you are doing. Not anything in particular ("Breath, the particular area being stretched, chakra, overall body, whatever" ), but rather everything in general. This is not particularly possible when you are contending with yourself. Your focus then becomes one of contending with yourself. Ironically, expecting (desiring) your mind not to wander never works. Only letting go 'works'.

    In other words, [chref=43]That is why I know the benefit of resorting to no action. The teaching that uses no words, the benefit of resorting to no action, these are beyond the understanding of all but a very few in the world.[/chref]

    Again, fully accept than a wandering mind is a natural mind; you don't want to go up against mother nature do you? If you don't contend, you can better cooperate with the way things are. [chref=68]This is known as matching the sublimity of heaven[/chref]. What more could you ask for? Furthermore, as a bonus, you will find in your yoga [chref=45]great perfection[/chref].

    Oh, and forget the 'chakra' business. Names complicate the simple. i.e., [chref=32]Only when it is cut are there names. As soon as there are names One ought to know that it is time to stop.[/chref] Focus on what you are feeling and drop the labels. For example, rather than think about focusing on breathing, feel yourself doing it, and watch that feeling. Same applies to everything you sensually experience. Chakra, like so many labels we conjure up is not based in the reality of experience; rather it is more an artifact of the human analytical mind. This is a common 'by-path' that is best not trod if you want to experience [chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref].

    A long answer for a short question, but once the fingers start tapping it and the mind start pondering, it takes on a momentum of its own. Hope it helps some Chris.
  • Thanks Carl. I suppose my current wonder is why even do yoga if the benefit is in resorting to no action?
  • edited July 2009
    Chapter 36 gives a succinct answer to at least part of your question.

    If you would have a thing shrink,
    You must first stretch it;
    If you would have a thing weakened,
    You must first strengthen it;
    If you would have a thing laid aside,
    You must first set it up;
    If you would take from a thing,
    You must first give to it.

    I've personally found that it is only by fully jumping into action that I find the way to "resorting to no action". I imagine that sounds nuts. Isn't it curious how [chref=78]straightforward words seem paradoxical[/chref]. Yoga will give you want you want, provided you give up wanting to get what you want. (i.e., [chref=64]Therefore the sage desires not to desire[/chref]).

    Acting without resorting to action is no different than desiring without resorting to desire. Picture just letting it flow through you. I reckon much of our difficulty comes from getting stuck in the problem of the moment. I'm afraid it is really much simpler than words can express, yet we try. And the same principle applies: Try without resorting to trying.

    Resorting is the word (ideal) all these have in common. What does resorting mean? When I'm thirsty I resort to drinking water. Drinking water quenches my thirst until thirst returns. It is not different for other 'thirsts'. Thirst drives our trying, our action. Resorting to these to [chref=7]accomplish our private ends[/chref] is futile. Resorting is like putting all your eggs in the basket of acting, trying, wanting.

    There, I tried to put it into words. If I expect to succeed in that effort, I'm resorting to trying to succeed. If I don't expect success, well, all that remains is to exhibit the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block,
    have little thought of self and as few desires as possible
  • Very helpful. Thanks Carl.
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