Yoga is a concentration exercise. It's a challenge for most people like the asanas themselves. It can be seen if someone is focused on the work, the practice or not. The concentration span can differ from day to day.
Being able to concentrate is a skill. It helps in life in general. I think in the movie "Der atmende Gott" it was mentioned by one of the daughters of Krishnamacharya: without concentration learning is not possible.
How does it look like when yogis/yoginis are not focused:
- They start conversations in classes.
- They clean feet or glasses.
- Clothes need to be changed.
- The need to drink must be satisfied at once.
- One looks around.
- After each asana one needs a breathing break.
- Windows shall be opened or closed.
- Hair needs to be bound again and again.
- Staring at the ceiling before urdhva dhanurasana.
I could go on with the list. In classes I improved to focus, at home it's much more difficult for me.
When I realized how quickly distracted I am at home when I practice I developed a strategy how to get better at concentration. I'm very motivated to improve my concentration. Why? Not being concentrated means for me that I need much longer for the same task. A focused primary may last 90 min. When I'm distracted it can last up to 3 hours.
The method how I improve my concentration:
1. At home I practiced with the CD by Sharath. No email-checking is possible when Sharath leads me through the surya namaskaras and standing sequence. This gave me the confidence that it's possible for me to practice without interruption also at home. I can, was the attitude that I could develop.
2. The next step was to enlarge the concentration span slowly without CD. I started with the goal to practice focused the first 5 surya namaskara As. After a while I added the 3 surya namaskara Bs. Focused practice means for me one breath one movement. No breaks between surya namaskara A and B. Then I added one asanas after the other.
The advantages of a focused practice:
- Flow is experienced.
- The body becomes really hot, this makes the body also flexible, which allows all the crazy asanas.
- I have more time for other activities that I like as much as my yoga practice.
- Being able to concentrate is a general skill that can be used for other activities, too.
- I sweat. Sweating is part of the Ashtanga yoga practice as it shall detox the body.
Time to step on my mat.
To make concentration to a topic is a very first step to improve it.
PS: In other areas of my life I bettered my concentration with a timer. When I have a time limit for actibities it's easier to stay focused within that time. 25 min works well for me. Then I recover.