The “monkey mind” is yoga slang for someone whose mind is all over the place, like a monkey — one second focused on the banana, the other jumping from place to place. Have you ever had a task to complete, but couldn’t find the organization in your brain to accomplish it? That is what the monkey mind is — a cluster of thoughts running through the brain with no emphasis on how to stop it. Once you understand the basics of the monkey mind, you can then begin to notice when it’s in full effect. For example, the more hectic and busy your life is, the more thoughts run rampant throughout your mind.
As humans, we all have a million things going on, and understanding how to decipher what does and does not need to be at the forefront of the brain is essential, but takes precious time. Some of the ways to identify when you’re in that negative space are to first, stop and scan the body. Notice your jaw, is it clenched, and are your teeth squeezed together as if you were chomping down on an apple? Is your forehead raised and are your eyebrows lifted? How are your shoulders sitting? Are they shrugged all the way up to your ears, or are they pushed forward towards your cheeks? Lastly, notice your tongue — where is it sitting in your mouth? Is it pressed up against the roof of your mouth, or are you subconsciously pressing it against your teeth? All of these things are a physical manifestation of stress and anxiety, thus creating the monkey mind. Understand that the first step is just to observe your monkey with zero judgment, to take a step back and see what is actually going on.
The second step is to connect the physical body by moving it through certain yoga postures and connecting deeply to your breath. A few postures that I recommend doing when you’re in this mental space are:
Seated supine twist
A seated supine twist allows you to add pressure towards both opposing sides of the body. It’s rare that we have this sensation, making that feeling so prominent it calms the mind.
Eagle requires immense mental focus and challenges your balance while working both hemispheres of the brain. When you’re in eagle, the monkey mind gets less loud the harder you squeeze your thighs and arms together in order to create one goal.
Cat & Cow
Cat and cow are two of my absolute favorite postures in yoga; they require you to have your hands fully grounded on the earth while lifting and rounding through the spine connecting to each individual breath. With cat and cow being an active and slow-moving posture, the breath itself will calm down the monkey mind, leaving you with a sense of clarity.
All of these poses aid in silencing the chatter within the skull and gives you the tools to break the habit of letting your thoughts run your life. You are not a passenger in your brain — you are the driver and have total control of the narrative of your thoughts. When you observe your monkey mind, the monkey sits down and listens. Use this guide for the next time you feel overwhelmed or stressed!
What are your favorite yoga poses? Let us know below!
About Cheri Hilz
I first stepped into a hot yoga studio when I was 14 years old, I fell in love with it instantly. At the age of 15, I became one of the youngest certified yoga instructors in the country. I have now been teaching for eight years and counting, with thousands of classes underneath my belt. I couldn’t love what I do more.
Guiding people through my words is one of the most gratifying things I could do. My favorite styles of yoga to teach are, Vinyasa, Yin, Sculpt, and fusion classes. I couldn’t be luckier to have found my calling and love what I do this much. My heart and soul go into each and every class. I can’t wait to see you on the mat! IG: cherihilzyoga
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