“Take a moment to connect with what has landed on your mat today. How is your breath in this moment? Your body? What is your mental state? Are there any feelings that have followed you to class?”
Why do many yoga teachers find it important to begin and end their classes with this type of scan?
A yoga practice is meant to transform and elevate every part of our being. We all have bodies with ever changing sensations, symptoms and injuries. We come to class to balance and heal the body. Our mental state fluctuates constantly and affects the way that we see the world. We come to class to settle the mind to its natural state of openness and peace. Feelings and emotions are constantly changing and some can send us into avoidance, addictive patterns, and despair. We come to yoga to step through the doorway of emotional energies into joy, ease and creativity.
Why we do these scans
The scans are meant to help us to get present with ourselves. When we bring mindfulness to our whole state just as it is we feel grounded and empowered. We can only transform what we are aware of. For example if you come to class and you are aware that your shoulder is tight you will likely take better care of it in your practice. If you’re aware that you feel irritable today your yoga practice is likely to help that particular energy to move through. Noticing that the mind is planning and not fully present, actually brings you back to the moment.
Have you ever wondered what exactly you’re looking for in these scans?
What you’re cultivating is a capacity to simply bring awareness to what is. While you’re not looking for anything specific here are some things that you might notice.
Is it short, long, full, shallow, smooth, erratic?
Is it restricted in certain areas?
Is it relatively fast or slow?
What is your overall energy level?
How does your digestion feel?
Is there an injury or restriction somewhere in your body that you need to be mindful of?
Does your body feel tense or relaxed?
Are there certain areas of tension that stand out?
Does your body feel settled or restless?
What is your body temperature?
What is your overall mental state? Calm, busy, tight, relaxed?
Are there certain thought grooves that you are falling into?
Is there a situation that is playing back in your mind?
Are you planning your time after class?
Is there a specific emotion that you’re aware of in this moment?
Where do you notice it in your body?
Are you aware of specific sensations related to this emotion?
Do you notice other feelings associated with this emotion?
Notice how things change
It’s always interesting to do another scan as class is ending. How have your breath, body, mind and emotions shifted? Seventy-five minutes of yoga can often completely transform the state that you came in with and when we acknowledge this, it deepens our tendency towards ongoing self-care.
Attitude is key
When we do these types of scans it’s important to be kind, curious and available. We’re not evaluating, analysing or trying to fix or change anything. Our deepest self is always oriented towards greater ease, freedom and joy, and it practically goes there all on its own when we let go of control.
Also, the more we do these types of scans the more we’re able to stay present with our whole being throughout yoga class, and in life in general. We get to know ourselves more deeply, and develop a more spacious and tolerant attitude towards our many facets, both those we enjoy as well as those that are harder to accept. This allows us to act and respond to life from increasing presence and authenticity which in and of itself feels good but beyond that means that we have more to give to our partners, children, work, and community.