Quieting The Monkey Mind
October 29, 2018
One of my most beloved teachers periodically reminds her students of the real purpose of yoga: to quiet the “monkey mind.” It’s almost a humorous term until you take a moment to dig deep and consider what it means.
All of us, to a certain extent, live inside our heads. And I’d guess that most of the thoughts we think never escape our mouths – or if they do, the words may come out wrong (deficient vishudda chakra, anyone?).
All of this internalization can be rough on the soul. And when we don’t take the time to clear our heads, that “stuffing” of our thoughts and emotions can translate to behaviors that negatively impact not just ourselves, but those around us.
This month in my classes at Uptown Yoga, our sadhana has had a general focus on Yoga Sutra 1.2, which essentially boils down to one phrase: yogas chitta vritti nirodha. Roughly translated: stilling the fluctuations of the mind.
What does this mean with regard to your personal practice? It all depends on where you are in your journey. Many people, myself included, initially turn to yoga as a physical practice. Finding movement in your body on a mat can begin as a healthy way to ease into an exercise regimen, recover from an injury, or engage in physical activity that isn’t necessarily high impact.
What often happens as you commit to your yoga practice, however, is that it begins to extend beyond the physical. Perhaps you notice a positive shift in your demeanor, your mood, your perception of your circumstances. Without necessarily realizing it, you have begun to still the fluctuations in your monkey mind.
It is a good practice, then, to remind yourself that your yoga goes beyond the physical asana. Yes, the physical stuff can be really fun and healthy for your body, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying that. But when you shift your focus away from a physical goal and toward allowing the practice to serve as a vehicle for stilling your mind, your practice – and perhaps your entire world – can change.
Yoga is transformative. And if you allow it, you can develop the capacity to truly turn inward and find those spaces between your thoughts – and not just notice them, but begin to live in them. Move your body to quiet your mind. There’s no better place than your mat to do it with Uptown Yoga.
Krystle Sangillo earned her 200 hour certification in 2015 and is part of the Uptown Yoga Teacher Training faculty. Study with her in our next session starting Jan. 2019.