I’ve heard that yoga postures help prepare the body and mind for meditation.
Does that mean yoga and meditation are related? If so, how come yoga and
meditation aren’t offered together at more yoga studios?
Susan Wyler, Senior Teacher at TheHotTT
The ninety minute practice is meant to be a meditation. From the first half moon to the last savasana, the student is meant to breathe regularly, move into and out of postures with grace and control, and maintain a calm and empty mind. This isn’t easy at first (it is almost impossible if the room is too hot or lacking fresh air) but like any meditation practice, it gets better over time. The thing is to stick with it. Move through the masterful choreography of the series and watch what happens in the mind. Let each thought go, come back to the posture, the breath, the stillness.
Cindy Lunsford, Teacher at TheHotTT
Meditation classes are not very common on yoga schedules because people have been led to believe that it’s an esoteric practice for Westerners. Since yoga studios are a service and a business first and foremost, they will always work to serve the demands of their customers. However, all yoga practice contains elements of meditation even if the class description doesn’t say so. Through asana practice, students learn to focus, withdraw the senses and concentrate on one thing….all important elements of meditation, whether seated, walking, open-eyed or close-eyed. Moreover, through yoga, students slowly begin to practice non-attachment and non-judgement even if they don’t realize it right away. These, too, are elements of meditation. Since meditation for most people is a private practice, it can be more useful for practitioners to learn these elements and then explore more about meditation on their own. As someone who has been practicing yoga consistently for 6 years, it was not until the last year or so that I really began to explore forms of meditation on my own. As I prefer japa meditation on mala beads, which involves chanting aloud, I find the practice in solitude to be much more beneficial than with a group of people.
Charmaline Edmund Arvin, Teacher at TheHotTT
During our yoga practice we are meditating by quieting our mind of thoughts and focusing on our breath. By practicing this we find infinite possibilities and infinite power of intention. We can then take the meditation skills we learn during our yoga practice into our daily routines and practice stillness and breath anywhere.
Leticia Leyva, Support Teacher at TheHotTT
I have sometimes wondered this myself and I believe it’s because meditation is such a personal experience and journey for each person as an individual towardstheir higher Self. The path is very different for each person and no one can tell you what meditation should or shouldn’t be or how to get there, making it a very difficult subject to teach. However, if you are clueless as to where to begin there are several guided meditations teachers may offer briefly at the beginning or end of class and also books, articles, and/or blogs one can reference in order to gain some insight as to how to begin or deepen ones own meditation practice. Group meditations are often a very powerful source of connecting with others and diving deeper into meditation as well.
Lisa Marie, Support Teacher at TheHotTT
While physical yoga prepares the body and mind for meditation and can be meditative in and of itself, most studios prefer to leave meditation to the individual to develop as part of his/her life path. As many meditative practices are associated with a specific religion or spiritual goal, yoga offered in the US is generally secular so it is inclusive and welcoming regardless of your personal beliefs. Besides this, physical yoga requires more verbal and visual guidance that only a teacher can provide, where as there is no defined “right way” to meditate. Only you know your conscious self, what works for you to still your mind, and what you require to focus intently – many of us need absolute quiet which is hard to achieve with groups. However, don’t hesitate to take a meditation class or try a CD if you find one that inspires you – if you are “shopping” for a method or teaching that fits your beliefs and goals, it may be a great start towards your personal meditative practice.
Ryan McCourt, Support Teacher at TheHotTT
I actually think an area for meditation is provided in yoga studios. In the east, yoga and meditation are done together, one right after the other, and that same bond of yoga and meditation has been adapted quietly in the west. After a long and rewarding class the instructor often encourages the students to stay in the room and recuperate for at least a few minutes. The room is a quiet sanctuary and there is usually a 15-30 minute break in between classes. While it may not explicitly be called mediation time, this is the perfect time to be still for a moment and find your center.
Jeannie Savage, Support Teacher at TheHotTT
To me, the practice of yoga itself brought me to a place where my head was clear and it was easier for me to focus on something or go deeper into whatever it was I was focusing on. That was where yoga and meditation merged for me. I think that meditation is offered in the yoga class without people actually realizing or naming it as such. That is personal though because each individual experiences different things. Just like two people being in the same class: one person might think it was a great class and they really pushed themselves while another person might think they really struggled and didn’t enjoy the class. I have seen some studios offer workshops on guided meditation, but I think as long as you are networking and talking with people in the yoga community, more opportunities will arise.