Awareness of a pond of lilies

What is awareness?

Yogically, the main focus of yoga classes is awareness. Even though a lot of people come to yoga classes and view yoga as a way to destress and relax, these are almost like side effects (not surprisingly, pleasant ones! 😊). But the main focus of yoga is awareness. What is awareness? 

Being aware means to know, to notice and to make connections between things and people, notice how everything is connected, notice what is happening. In a wider sense, being aware means fully be present in the current moment, be fully alive.

Awareness of the body and sounds

So, in yoga class we focus on awareness a lot. We bring your awareness to your body right from the beginning. We ask you to notice how your body feels lying on the floor, ask you to be aware of the contact between the body and floor. When you move in and out of the postures, the more awareness you can bring to the movement, to the way how your body moves and how it feels in a certain position, the more benefit you will take from class. For example, we ask you to feel the stretch into the side of the hips and lower back as you take the knees from side to side. Or we bring your attention to your lower back pressing into the floor as you lift your head. 

We also invite you to be aware of the sounds around you – inside the room, outside of the room you are in. We even suggest distinguishing many different sounds of the birds, traffic, people talking.

Awareness of breath

Most important aspect of a class is to be aware of your breath. If you can maintain your awareness on the breath for a long period of time, you might not even need yoga! It will mean that you are very much in touch with yourself and reality around you. However, most people don’t have that ability. So to learn how to be aware of your breath is a useful skill and ability. Only when you are breathing fully and you are aware of your breath, you are fully alive, enjoying life.

The effects of being aware

In class we teach you to be aware but the effects of that learning can be transformed into your every day life. When you become aware of your breath, body and mind, you will also start to pay more attention to what is happening around you. You will become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and how you interact with them. We teach you to notice whether you keep engaging constantly with your thoughts, keep ignoring emotions and feelings you might feel, or you notice them. Being able to fully live and experience everything that you go through is what distinguishes a person who is aware and alive from someone who lives on auto pilot. Life can be seen with more colours, can be tasted with more flavours and heard with more sounds when you are aware, when you pay attention, when you notice.

So, you become aware of others and how you interact with them and how your words, thoughts and actions have an effect on you and those around you. The more you are aware, the better the quality of those relationships are – the relationship with yourself, with your loved ones and family, the relationship with the bigger environment. 

Final words

So, as a first step in becoming more aware, you can start to notice your breath. Notice your in breath – without changing anything. Then notice your outbreath. And notice a pause – a gap – in between each breath. Breathe in, notice gap, breathe out, notice gap. The more you can be aware of your breath and particularly those gaps in between each breath, the calmer, more balanced, more alive and joyful you are. 

I hope you will give it a go and practice this – awareness of the breath, or perhaps, awareness of the sounds, awareness of your body right now.

Awareness of wheat stalks