Cell phones are unquestionably part of our everyday life. Can you remember the last time you left your phone at home? Most people can’t, including myself! It’s rare for someone not to have a phone on them in our culture. Although this has some obvious advantages regarding safety, communicating, and convenience, it definitely has drawbacks as well. So what are the big reasons to keep your phone away from the mat? Here are a few you might want to consider.
It’s an easy distraction that can swiftly take you out of the present moment.
Cell phone addiction is on the rise which can cause anxiety, depression, and even change the functioning of the brain. One study from researchers at Korea University found that teenagers with cell phone addiction had higher concentrations of GABA, a neurotransmitter that slows down neurons. Those teens had a lower attention span, making it difficult to focus. A huge part of yoga is focusing attention inwards. Allowing yourself to be free of distractions—like a cell phone—can help you go deeper into your experience.
It’s a constant reminder of the outside world.
Part of yoga is navigating the inner landscape. Pratyahara, or sense withdrawal, is the practice of releasing yourself from external distractions. Having your phone next to you constantly reminds you of your to-do list and your obligations. Why not free yourself of this for just an hour? Setting clear boundaries, like keeping your phone away from your mat, can do a lot for your personal practice.
What are some useful tools, outside of the obvious?
Leaving your phone far, far, away from the mat is an obvious one. So is keeping your phone in your bag on silent or even in airplane mode. But what can you do otherwise to enhance your practice beyond the physical?
1. Practice with eyes closed
Going through your yoga practice with eyes closed is a perfect way to embrace Pratyahara, by removing any visual stimuli, so you can focus inwards.
2. Consider what type of music you use, or don't use any at all
Consider if your music has words you can sing along to. Does it take you out of the present? Try using only instrumental or ambient sounds; perhaps even no music at all.
3. Are there any other distractions?
Is your computer nearby? Or a clock? Consider anything that might set you off. If time is what you’re concerned about in your home, try putting your phone on airplane mode and setting an alarm.
4. Are there excuses you make for yourself?
This could be “I need to be available for my work/kids/spouse etc.” This might help you justify keeping your phone near the mat. Of course, there may be times when this is true. But, it can’t be true all the time. Really be honest with yourself about the time you can set aside for your practice. You deserve it!
It can be so powerful to hold space to let go of distractions, even if it's just briefly. How are you creating those opportunities?
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