Teaching Students to be Present for Yoga Practice

Teaching Students to be Present for Yoga Practice

be present for yoga practiceBy Faye Martins and Gopi Rao

How to be present for yoga practice? The practice of yoga is meant to calm both the body and the mind. With slow movements and a focus on breath, we learn to quiet the mind and focus on the present moment. Most often, we need to be calm enough to handle the stresses of daily life, regret past actions, and worry about the future. It is easier than it sounds to think only of the present moment. Our minds wander quickly, and thoughts tend to “snowball” toward worst-case scenarios. When our minds are anxious and forget about the present, we may notice our breath quickens and our heart beats faster. Whatever we are doing in the present is quickly forgotten.



To counter this snowball effect, become calm, and develop awareness, we must learn to be present. This starts with a focus on the breath. Yoga posturing is a physical practice of the body’s core and limbs, which work alongside the breath. In a Vinyasa-style class, as students move from one position to the next, the yoga instructor will note whether to breathe in or out, for example: “Breathe in, upward-facing dog, breathe out, downward-facing dog,” and so on. Breathing in this way with each posture allows the body to flow easier and gentler through the positions. This method is precious for beginners who may feel that some movements are difficult to master. Adding the breath makes each position flow into the next and provides a fluidity that could not be achieved without being present for yoga practice.


Additionally, controlled breathing helps practitioners to be present while they practice flowing through the postures (asanas). When you are thinking about breathing in and out, you cannot also think about the fight you had with your sister last week or the yard work that needs to be done. The practice of yogic breathing teaches our students to be mindful. Being mindful means simply observing what is happening in the present moment, not trying to escape it by thinking of the past or future and not criticizing it, but simply observing it.


Here’s an Easy Way to Explain it to Your Students

We overthink everything as humans, and our minds need a rest from our racing thoughts, so as you breathe in and then out and move from upward-facing dog into downward-facing dog, for example, think to yourself: “I am breathing in, upward-facing dog, I am breathing out downward-facing dog.” These are not random thoughts but observations of the present moment. You are being present, you are being mindful, and you are in the here and now. This makes you aware of others practicing alongside you and aware of the instructor’s voice. All this while you know the feel of the mat beneath you and your muscles as they stretch into position. Remember, thinking about other moments in time is not bad. We must be able to learn from the past and plan for the future, but we must not forget the most important time: the present.


The Yogic Concept: I Am

The concept of “I am” is meant to help those who are participating in an activity designed to develop the mind’s focus to participate in meditation successfully. Anyone interested in pursuing yoga or meditation must understand that the practice will not be as fulfilling unless the mind is trained. The idea of “I am” is a central concept in yoga. It is the belief that we are all connected to the world around us.


“I am” is also about being present in the moment and being aware of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. When we are present, we can be more mindful of our words and actions and make choices that align with our values. When we are not present, we may react to situations without thinking about the consequences of our efforts. The concept of “I am” can help us be more present in our lives and make choices that align with our deepest desires.


Sense of Focus

The “I am” concept is designed to help the student better focus on the self. More importantly, the only sense of direction must be in the moment rather than allowing the mind to race from one thought to the next. For yogic methodology to work well within the human body and the mind, the student must learn how to successfully deal with the stresses that generally occur throughout daily life. Otherwise, focusing on being present for yoga practice would be virtually impossible.

Being Present

Students who are present for yoga practice must be able to focus on the body and control the mind’s thoughts while engaging in yogic practices. It is essential to control the breath and steady the mind long enough to allow one to reach a state of self-realization. Otherwise, the student is merely going through the motions without any genuine concept of the deeper meaning of practicing yoga. To maximize the benefits of being present for yoga practice, students must make a conscious effort to remain focused on their thoughts.


Center the Mind

In its purest form, yoga is a meditative exercise involving the mind, body, and spirit. It combines the most effective elements of its many methods to help students develop physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Many practitioners find that they can grow spiritually from learning the “I am” concept and practicing it regularly. The ability to center one’s mind and focus only on the here and now is one of the most important things anyone can do to improve his or her overall health. In addition, a great deal of insight can be gained regarding an individual’s ability to excel in life, even in the face of challenges.

Why Do We Bother?

When yoga students are fully present in class, they can connect more deeply with their practice and the teacher. They can also be more aware of their surroundings and bodies, which can help them stay safe during class. Being fully present can also help students get more out of practice mentally and physically. When students can focus on the present moment, they can better absorb the instructions and guidance from the teacher. They can also be more aware of their alignment and how their bodies feel, which can help them avoid injury. Being fully present in yoga class can help students connect more deeply with their practice, stay safe, and get the most out of each class.


Student Benefits

Firstly, presence lets students get the most out of their yoga practice. Being fully present means being aware of your body and your breath and being able to focus on the present moment. This can help students find stillness and peace on and off the mat. In addition, students who are fully present during yoga class tend to progress more quickly than those who are not. This is because they can take in all the information being presented to them, and they are more likely to retain what they have learned. Furthermore, when students are fully present, they are more likely to feel a deeper connection to their bodies and the other class members. This can create a sense of community and support that can be very beneficial.


© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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3 thoughts on “Teaching Students to be Present for Yoga Practice”

  1. I read the article of Sangeetha saran on dark side of yoga classes and then this one. I find these two articles contradictory ot each other. The yoga in its prestine purity is that of Sage Patanjali. Marketing of Yoga is perhaps not justified, even in the present senerio in the west.

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