The Problem: Distraction Quite often in our exercise routines we either push our bodies past the breaking point or simply check out, letting our minds drift away. We tend to distract ourselves from the discomfort of exercise with music, reading a magazine while on the treadmill, or engage in conversations with an exercise partner that take us miles away from what our bodies are doing in the moment. As we wander through the rest of our day away from the gym, we wonder why we’re prone to be distracted or scattered. We train our minds to escape from discomfort or difficulty, and then question the results. The Solution: Attention Yoga is different. Yoga asana requires a combination of balance, flexibility, and strength that pulls our attention back to our bodies as we practice. With hot yoga in particular, the intensity of temperature creates a sensation of the body opening and lengthening as the heat penetrates and loosens the muscles. The intensity of the workout combines with the sensation of increased flexibility and strength. That unique combination leads us to place all our focus on the moment at hand, whether we’re stretching toward our toes or engaging our legs and minds to balance in a challenging standing posture. With yoga, the body can’t work successfully without the mind and attention. Body, Mind, and Spirit Because yoga encourages an integrated attention that involves our bodies, our brains, and our inner cores, yoga practitioners are often surprised to find themselves feeling more centered and less anxiety-ridden once off the mat. Our students often find themselves responding to situations at work and at home with calmer reactions, initiated by an unexpected sense of ease, perspective, and confidence. With a regular yoga practice, the documented physical and medical benefits of yoga are inextricably linked to the mental, emotional, and even spiritual growth of the practitioner. Integration Yoga is, at its base, a challenging physical practice that has been shown to improve overall health and fitness . Yoga has also been practiced for millennia as a meditative or contemplative practice. Indeed, hatha (physical) yoga is but one branch of eastern yogic traditions, a means of reining in the mind by challenging the body. Whether you’ve come to yoga to relieve stress or improve muscle tone, you may find that, without any conscious effort, you’ve become a calmer and more centered person in the process. Yoga can not only bring balance to our outer bodies, but to our inner beings as well.