Photo by Monica Felix @

Giving your brain a workout during your next yoga class

Photo by Monica Felix @

Photo by Monica Felix @

Often times when I practice yoga, I set an intention before class.

I plant a seed in my brain. I take a particular thought or problem or issue that I’m currently struggling with and use that as a framing device to guide my experience.

And by the time I’m done, the mental prompt I’ve layered on top of the rhythmic, repetitive action will produce an insight I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. It’s the same reasoning behind traveling with your romantic partner within the first three months of the relationship. The road, after all, is the ultimate testing ground. The arena where the truth surfaces. The wringer through which successful relationships endure.

This exercise is called aggressive pondering. Deliberately creating a situation or framed experience in order to have an arena in which to work out an unresolved issue.

For example…

If you’re struggling to get along with a coworker, you might ask yourself before class, “What is this situation asking me to learn?”

If you’re trying to find your next creative project, you might incant to yourself, “I wonder what wants to be created next…”

If you’re hoping to discover something new about your body, you might recite the mantra, “I am welcoming self knowledge…”

Practice aggressive pondering. Give your brain a workout, in addition to your body.

What’s your best pre class mantra?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and workstudy volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.