When you think of doing yoga, your first association might be with the physical practice: moving through the yoga poses and practising yoga breathing. But meditation‘the act of focusing your mind’is also part of a well-rounded yoga experience.
Learning to meditate in yoga involves more than sitting still for a few moments each day. The reason? Your mind might still be sifting through a barrage of thoughts and worries. ‘Yoga meditation is about quieting a busy mind,’ says Wade Imre Morissette, a yoga teacher in Vancouver, B.C., and author of Transformative Yoga: Five Keys to Unlocking Inner Bliss. ‘The more you’re able to quiet your thoughts through yoga meditation, the more you experience a sense of true presence,’ he says. And being in the moment helps create that beneficial mind-body connection that yoga is known for.
How to meditate in yoga:-
The first step to successful meditation is practicing it often. But even in a class where the yoga teacher sets time aside for meditation, getting the hang of how to meditate can be quite challenging, whether you’re a beginner to yoga or you’ve been taking yoga classes for a while. Considering that serious yogis spend a lifetime honing the art of meditation, there’s no sense in pressuring yourself to perfect your own meditation technique after just a few sessions.
Yoga meditation for beginners:-
‘An easy way to learn how to meditate is to focus on the here and now,’ says Morissette. When you’re mindful about being in the moment, there’s no room for your attention to be pulled toward distracting thoughts about the past or future. ‘That can be very freeing,’ says Morissette.He recommends beginning with active meditation, where you focus your thoughts on something specific. ‘The idea is to streamline your attention to only one thing at a time, like your breathing or gazing at a candle flame.’
When you’re first trying out this meditation technique, says Morissette, be prepared for your mind to wander sometimes. Whenever you become aware that your thoughts have drifted, simply redirect your mental focus back to the present.
Want to give yoga meditation a try? Follow Morissette’s advice for getting started.
>Set aside just a few minutes at first. Choose a time of day when you’re able to meditate without interruption. You might coordinate your meditation so you do it right before or after a physical yoga practice.
>Sit with good posture either on the floor, cross-legged, or in a chair if it’s more comfortable. (If seated cross-legged, switch which leg is crossed on top each time you meditate.
>Gaze at a simple object such as a candle’s flame or a black dot written on a piece of paper. Or, close your eyes and home in on the rhythm of your yoga breathing.
>As you become more familiar with how to meditate, increase your practice by a minute or two at a time.Finally, to avoid frustration, remember this common yoga meditation myth: ‘Meditating is not about achieving a blank mind,’ says Morissette. ‘It’s more about resisting the temptation to react to the thoughts that do pop into your head.
I have to confess that I’m no yogi! I did Iyengar-style Yoga fairly regularly for several years a long time ago, and I still do the occasional class to stop myself from getting too stiff.Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point.
I would like to do it more regularly, but well you know how it is. Keeping up a regular meditation practice and running an online meditation center take up a lot of time. So I’m not setting myself up as some sort of an expert.
Meditating involves sitting still for a period of time — maybe 10 minutes, or maybe 100 minutes. The increased flexibility that yoga brings helps the body to remain comfortable during this physical inactivity.
I remember very well being on retreat, and noticing that I had more energy available to me in my meditation practice after doing yoga. Maybe it’s something as simple as endorphin release, or maybe it’s something more mysterious — I don’t know and don’t really need to know. What I found in my experience was that in the 4.30 PM meditation, in which normally I would be struggling to keep my body upright and in which my brain would tend to “go on standby” I was suddenly wide awake if I did yoga just beforehand.
More than that, I noticed that I felt full of life, as if I was plugged into the mains electricity. Those late afternoon meditations were certainly more productive than they used to be.
Awareness of the body is said to be the first “foundation” of mindfulness. Mindfulness can’t exist in the abstract — we have to have something to be mindful of. And it’s hard to be aware of what the more subtle elements of our experience are doing if we aren’t aware of what relatively substantial parts of our experience (like the body) are doing. Yoga helps us to be more aware of the body, which helps with the overall process of developing mindfulness. That brings me onto the fourth benefit that I noticed.
Relaxation and Calmness:-
Yoga helps to promote a deeper awareness of the body and of its muscles and joints. This has a grounding effect, helping to calm the mind, which in turn slows down our emotions so that we feel more relaxed. At the end of a session of yoga, I’d notice a definite emotional buoyancy accompanied by mental clarity and calmness.
All this makes me think I should get to yoga classes more often! And I want to encourage you to do the same, so I asked my friend and colleague Dharmapriya if he’d contribute some basic instruction in yoga. You’ll find his advice on the following pages, and you might be interested also in his Body Wisdom CD, which leads you through the asanas that are illustrated here.