Positive psychology is a new paradigm in the fields of psychology and sociology. This branch of psychology differs from traditional approaches to psychology because it emphasizes what is going right in an individual’s life, instead of what is going wrong. In other words, there is a strong emphasis on the cup being half-full, instead of half-empty. The “cup,” in this case, may represent a client’s health, a student’s skill and talent in a particular field of study, or the strong points of a practitioner’s Yoga practice. Two of the core elements of positive psychology are mindful awareness and a sense of flow. The application and practice of these positive psychological principals, both “on and off the mat,” can have a profoundly uplifting effect on a Yoga practitioner.
Mindful awareness is essentially the ability to be completely present in the moment without anxiety, expectation, or any attachment to the outcome. This practice can be similar to walking the proverbial razor’s edge. In order to mindfully move through the asana segment of your Yoga session, it is necessary to practice the postures without any kind of story attached to your momentary ability to practice a variety of asanas, on any specific day. For example, if you were able to balance in Handstand Pose for several minutes yesterday, but you are not able to even stay up in Handstand for one minute today, letting go of any negative internal dialogue that may be spurred on by your failure to balance in the pose today is the core of your internal work, as you move through your practice.
Letting go of any attachment to performing a specific sequence of asanas is one of the more challenging aspects of incorporating mindful awareness into your Yoga practice. When you are able to honor where you are today, and offer your practice up as an act of service to yourself and those around you, you will feel a freedom, peace, and lightness of being. Practicing Yoga, in a mindful way, will also allow you to enter into a state of flow. This state is marked by a sense of ease and independence from time. Being attached to performing certain asanas, for a set length of time, can interrupt, and even prevent, this feeling of flow. By internally supporting a mindful approach to your practice, and cultivating the experience of flow, the sense of self-respect, gratitude, and well-being will naturally arise from your Yoga practice.