What a lot of people forget is that the vast collection of over 84 classic Yoga poses and their variations were traditionally practised with the sole purpose of finding comfort for extended periods of seated meditation. Meditation is an invaluable tool used to centre, calm and focus the mind, relieve stress and anxiety. Even just 10 minutes of practice a day can bring about increased overall happiness, among other wonderful mental, emotional and spiritual benefits.
Asana translated as “posture or pose”. It literally means “seat” and according to the Yoga Sutras it should be firm yet relaxed. Typically one sits for meditation in Sukhasana (Pleasant Pose) or Padmasana (Lotus Pose) with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed. A cushion may be added under your behind to relieve stress in the lower back.
Follow these easy guidelines to enhance meditation’s powerful effects:
- Create a serene environment
Find a quiet place to sit where you will be undisturbed and free from as many distractions as possible. Bring a personal touch to the space by burning your favourite incense, lighting a candle, playing soft Yoga music, adding photos of people and/or objects that inspire you, helping you feel connected to your space.
- Warm up
More than just stretching and toning the physical body, the Yoga poses open the bod’s nadis (energy channels) and chakras (psychic centres) allowing energy to flow unrestricted. A few gentle stretches to release and relax the muscles before your meditation will go a far way to find comfort in the sitting pose. Neck Rolls, Half Spinal Twists and Forward Bends will offer a gentle, opening release to the body.
- Begin with the breath
Pranayama (breathing) is used to focus the attention of the mind and practising Ujjayi (Victory Breath). Alternative Nostril Breath (Nadi Shodhan Pranayama) and Kapalabhati (Shining Breath) before your sit for meditation will give you an even quieter mind from where to start.
- Become a witness
Instead of trying to cease thought all together, practise becoming a witness to your thinking and watch as thoughts flow into and out of yourmind, without forming any attachments or judgments to them. Bringing your attention back to the breath or a mantra will help keep your minds from wandering too far away.
- Relax your face
Keeping a soft and gentle smile throughout your meditation helps your face remain relaxed and enhances this soft, loving experience.
- Consistency is key
As with anything in life, the more you practise, the better you become. Do not become disheartened if meditation does not come easily to you; just commit yourself to keep doing it. Setting aside preferably both morning and evening time to allow for this self-practice will give you additional mental space and increased clarity in all areas of your life.
- Come back gently
Do not rush to get back to the world. Open your eyes gently and perhaps find a closing prayer or daily affirmation to use to keep your mind centred in the joy.
To read about why you should consider becoming a Yoga instructor, click here.