Everyone I know has a smartwatch of some sort these days, whether it's a Fitbit, Garmin, or an Apple Watch. They are incredible pieces of technology that have the ability to help motivate people and help them reach all sorts of wellness goals, but do they belong in the yoga room?
Why would I wear a smartwatch during yoga anyway?
People come to yoga for a plethora of reasons, and that's one of the things that makes it such a magical practice! Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice, but in modern society, many people take bits and pieces of it and use it for what they need. For example, one person might start practicing yoga to introduce low impact exercise for their physical health benefits, while someone else practices to help improve their mental health.
Someone who is using yoga primarily as a form of exercise might be interested in their average heartrate or how many calories they burn during a class, so they start wearing a smartwatch. Over time, this turns into a habit. As class starts, they start their activity, and right after they lie down for savasana, they pop their head up and stop tracking: "Activity complete: Great work!" Now, it's time for rest.
What are the downsides of wearing a fitness tracker while I practice?
If wearing your smartwatch has the potential to give you valuable insights, you might be wondering why you wouldn't want to wear it when you practice yoga. I could write a novel about this, but it all boils down to one thing: It is a monumental distraction during the time you have set aside to focus on yourself. Everything is all fun and games until you get added you a group text five minutes into class!
Your yoga practice is about connecting with your mind, body, and soul - you don't need anything other than yourself! It can be challenging enough to keep your mind in the yoga room when you have a million other things going on, and having your smartwatch on your arm is a physical reminder of the outside world. Not to mention the fact that it will most likely be buzzing throughout class with texts, calls, emails, calendar notifications, and any other apps you have installed!
Leave it in the locker room!
Spoiler alert: I think you should leave your smartwatch in another room (with your phone!) when you practice. Minimizing distractions can help deepen your practice in many ways. You will find that it's easier to balance on one leg (yes, really), focus on your breathing, and you won't be checking the time every thirty seconds to see if class is almost over yet...because you can't! Allow yourself to be in the moment.
But how will I know my metrics?!
"But if I leave my watch in the locker room, how will I know how many calories I burned?" You won't. And guess what - it doesn't matter at all. Aparigraha, or non-attachment, is one of the five yamas (which are the first of the eight limbs of yoga, if you're familiar with them).
The concern is with action alone, never with results. Let not the fruit of action be thy motive, not let thy attachment be for inaction.
– The Bhagavad Gita
Let your metrics go. Let keeping track of time go. Leave your watch, your phone, and your worries at the door of your yoga room, studio, or wherever you practice, and give yourself the time to truly check in with yourself. I think you'll find that if you do, you will feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually.