Zammai’s Yoga Insightful Tip (Concentration)

 Veerabradhasana

Since arriving in Los Angeles, I’ve been doing my morning practices outdoors. It is beautiful to see the transition from dark to light. When I start doing Surya Shakti it is still dark but when I finished the practice as I opened my eyes, I see the Pacific Ocean and blue sky. It is quite an experience. But it is another experience doing postures and stay focus when there are noises. How to quiet the mind in this situation? Well, that is another experience. 

It is easy to concentrate when you are in your own quiet space but granted even in a quiet space the mind may go in different directions and even in your quiet space, you will still not be able to concentrate. So doing my practices outside has been interesting because I wanted to test my concentration. There are some postures that require you to be fully at a one point mind, otherwise, you completely lose balance. For instance, the posture of Veerabradhasana and Vrikshasana. 

By the time I get to my spot on the beach is around 3:40 am and at this time the environment is mostly quiet (depends!!) You can find people sleeping on the beach, sometimes there are couples, homeless just wandering, some people are intoxicated, sometimes I can even smell the marijuana, there are others who are running, the truck garbage and sand cleaners of the beach, plane sounds from LAX, and others are just walking enjoying the sounds of the beach. So you are wondering, why doing yoga in this environment that is noisy. And I forgot to say that as it gets brighter now you can find more people jogging, bicycle riders and some of them have a speaker playing loud music (some of the music is not bad and it is actually pretty good); and lastly, I can hear when people pass me, their life stories! Yes, I can hear all kind of stories from dating, moving to LA, startups, investment, real state, the next meeting strategic plan, or the different things people do when running errands. 

Sounds pretty exhausting, right? Well, it depends on how to take the environment, the ego, and the mind. When you take the mind out of its comfort zone, the mind will do all kinds to ensure it goes back to its comfort zone. But here is where you have to be at your best and remain serene and calm. I started my first day with Upa Yoga and the rest of the practices. I practice the advance Upa Yoga that requires strong balance because you are lifting your body with your toes only. My body began to shake and the body just didn’t want to do the practice. I felt the body’s restriction similar to what I went through when I first began to learn the practice last year. Something similar happened when I did Veerabradhasana and Vrikshasana because I lost balance due to the noise and people passing by me. I didn’t do anything but it was an “aha moment” for me to observe the mind and body. I didn’t get upset but rather it is here where I settle more in serenity and calmness. By doing this, I’m calming the mind and sending new behaviors to my brain on how it is supposed to respond when I do the practice again outdoors. I took me two days before I began to completely settle with my surroundings. When you do the posture you are meditating, whether you focus on the subtle body or the breath. While I was doing the postures, in the beginning, I had people starring at me, some even calling me different names or saying different statements such as: “yoga master; hey what is that guy doing;” “that looks hard”; “this is my beach and no yoga;” “oh my god, I have to get back to doing yoga;” “hey keep up the good work buddy, you are doing great;” “excuse me sir;” “he do you know Richard;” “mom, is that yoga?;” “okay so let me tell you about other yoga classes that I’m taking;” “hey that guy look funny;” and the list can go on. I even had a couple and friend pretty much sitting in front me just watching all of my postures. I can hear them but I didn’t know how close they were to me because I do all of my practices with my eyes closed. I remember when I was transitioning to do Vrikshasana, I felt the fear of the body and ego. I just didn’t pay attention anymore and said, let’s do it and whatever happens, okay, that is. When I opened my eyes as I transition from Trikonasana to Vrikshasana, the couple and friend were all looking at me. Rather than feeling uncomfortable, I settle on my breath and didn’t even pay attention anymore to them. Oh yes, I had a dog once coming close to me. 

I’m a strong believer in going extremely hard to challenge the mind. The mind will prefer to go softer, but why? The mind goes strong on us with its unsettle behavior and it makes us suffer. I see it the other way around that if you want to change quick, then it is must to go against the mind and the ego, extremely hard. If you want to go on a fast track rewiring and destroying old ways, then it takes devotion, effort, and faith that it can be done. Now, as I go doing the practices, the sounds of the people or whatever else is out there around me on the beach, I hear them as just sounds without any labels. It is just as is and it pays off when you are trying to control the senses. Controlling the senses can be done but it requires a strong one point mind, to focus on what is in the moment now. Concentration is a challenge for all of us. A reporter asked President John F. Kennedy for how long he can keep his concentration when he reads a document, he said the maximum he can do is probably for a minute or so before he notices hi minds is going somewhere else. The conscious part of the brain still relatively small (anterior cingulate cortex) for us to fully developed a one point mind at anything we do. It takes years of practice to have a complete control of the mind and senses. It can be and it has been done by many yogis. But to my surprise this experience is helping me to concentrate better on my daily tasks and even if I’m eating breakfast or working at a coffee shop, the sounds are gradually fading quickly. 

I know it sounds a bit radical way to concentrate especially while doing yoga. But you have to put yourself to a test all the time when you begin practicing meditation and yoga. I don’t think you have to be in a secluded place to do concentration or any other practices. If you are in complete serene and calmness then you can concentrate and do your practices anywhere. The serenity and calmness is your True-Self and the outside environment will not have any impact because you are bigger than what the eyes perceive. This is one of the many other ways on how I have tested my body and mind. 

So if you are in LA and want to join me one morning, you are more than welcome. Shoot me an email :-)  We can experience the vast sounds of serenity and calmness and just see the play it of all. And if you are interested in learning the practices we can discuss. I don't charge for my teachings but the only requirement is an interview. 

Keep up with the practices. 

Pranam,