Yoga Meditation Practice
“The thing about meditation is: You become more and more YOU. ” —david lynch
Meditation is at the heart of every yoga practice. Although incredibly beneficial on their own, asana and pranayama practices are meant to prepare the mind and body for meditation through concentration and focus. The benefits of meditation are believed to be vast, including reduced stress, deepened concentration, selfawareness, mindfulness, cardiovascular health, boosted immune system, and increased serotonin. The good thing about meditation is that you can do it anywhere and don’t have to practice for hours on end to reap the benefits.
Meditation is at its core the practice of training our minds by bringing our awareness to one singular point of focus. This sounds easy in theory, but can be difficult to practice. Our minds are constantly flowing from one thought to another. It’s difficult to slow down and bring our focus to one single thing, or to be truly present in our lives and with the people we love. This is where meditation can help.
Meditation techniques include Insight Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and Yogic Meditation. They all use different points of focus for the mind; you’ll work out which type works best for you. The key to all meditation techniques is consistency. Meditating for 5 to 10 minutes every day is more beneficial than 30 to 60 minutes once a week.
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The simplest meditation is to close your eyes and focus only on your breath. Draw your attention to every inhale and exhale. Every time you find your mind wandering, draw your focus back to the breath to get back in touch with yourself. Meditation is not about running away or escaping. It’s about becoming more aware of our feelings, minds, and the world.
If you find that focusing on the breath is not enough to quiet your mind, you may come up with a mantra or intention that adds another layer to your meditation. This mantra can be a traditional Sanskrit mantra like the sound of Om , the sound of cosmic consciousness, it can also be Om Shanti , which means “peace.” It can also be something you desire for yourself, for another, or for the world at large, like the word “love.” By focusing on this mantra, not only are you creating a singular point of focus for your mind, but you’re also sending the positive message out into the world.
If you’re struggling with something in particular or need an extra point of focus, a guided imagery, visualization, or mudra can help. Mudras are sacred hand gestures, or yoga with your hands. These powerful gestures symbolize and awaken different spiritual qualities, such as compassion or courage, and are used for focus and intention in meditation practice. This type of meditation accesses the subconscious. Many athletes use this kind of visualization meditation when trying to achieve a certain feat. Guided imagery can be used for any type of challenge, such as anxiety, negative patterns or habits, illness or injury, or difficult relationships.