Returning to the Present Moment in Yoga
Practicing yoga means you are supposed to be in the moment. But even when asanas are so difficult that being anywhere else seems impossible our minds sometimes wander. One of the reasons is that we make a few mistakes during a series or fall out of a pose and then ruminate upon these mistakes as the session progresses.
You can use the power of behavioral association to help you return to the present moment in your yoga practice by using down dog as a reset button. I first heard about doing this by a great yoga teacher named Rob and I have used it ever since. In Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh and his friends use bells. Every time they hear the sound of a bell they drop whatever they are doing, mindfully focusing on their breathing and coming back to the moment.
As Hanh has pointed out, being mindful is at once the simplest and the most difficult thing to do in the world. All you have to do is invest 100% of your attention in whatever it is you are doing. Tapping into behavioral psychology is a good way to help you out. If you really make an effort to start responding to the stimulus of the teacher saying ‘down dog’ with returning to the present moment, doing so will become second nature to you after a few sessions because the behavior will start to hardwire.