Recently I went on a whitewater kayaking trip to Washington and BC. Normally my husband and I like to run very difficult whitewater (steep class V) when we go on these trips. On the months preceding this trip, we were working full time in our office on an upcoming guidebook (The River Gypsies' Guide to North America). The rivers around where we live weren't running all that much and we really didn't have the time to go out and chase the water (they are rain dependent) anyway. Every day I felt exhausted and my brain felt dull. When I would do my yoga practice, I just couldn't focus and it faltered as well. We thought we would just get it all together once we got on the road. What we found out was that when we would put on these difficult rivers, really any river, we had a lot of trouble focusing and it caused some bad lines and poor decisions. We just weren't as sharp as we are used to being. We knew that it was our lack of kayaking preceding the trip and that our brains had become tired and dull from all of the work.
Next, as you move into your physical practice, only do half of the amount of postures you were going to do in the same amount of time. As you practice the poses, slow down and notice where your breath is free and where it is restricted. In each pose, either feel or look in a mirror--where are your shoulders, arms, hands, fingers? Your rib cage—is it poking forward? How is your pelvis situated? How is it moving—restricted or freely? Where are you thighs? Your lower legs? Your feet, ankles, each of your toes? What is your spine doing? Is there pain or sensations anywhere? Where are your eyes focused? Where is your mind? After each pose, return to a neutral pose such as Mountain Pose and take a few breaths and noticed any sensations in the body and mind.
Then you take it with you "out there." Slow down and notice as you ride, climb, or paddle—where is your breath? Where are your shoulders? Your rib cage? Your pelvis? Your eyes focused? Your mind?
The road to awareness is never-ending. There is so much for you to discover about yourself and the world. Learning to slow down and pay attention is the foundation of discovery.