Is yoga meditation? Is yoga exercise? Can yoga help you lose weight, get strong muscles, develop cardio strength? What exactly is yoga, and what does it do for you?
Yoga means to join, to yoke, or to unite. Yoga is the joining, the uniting, or the yoking of body, mind, and spirit. How?
Yoga can be, and is meant to be a very spiritual practice. Not everyone uses it that way, and that’s fine. Sometimes people are just curious about yoga. Some people are looking for a physical activity that will guide them along the path to physical health. Sometimes that is enough, and that’s all that a person may want. Sometimes yoga develops into more, into a way of life and a practitioner begins to experience that yoking of mind, body, and spirit.
For me, yoga is meditation. I bring my attention to my body: how it moves into, and out of shapes and asanas, how the muscles and joints move and work to hold those shapes. I bring my attention to my breath and notice how my breath sustains me and fuels my movement, giving me energy to move, and flow, and hold the shapes.
When I teach yoga to an individual or a group, I encourage quieting the mind at the beginning of our session – taking baby steps towards meditation, which to many of us can feel so impossible and overwhelming to even try. It is important for me to share that quieting the mind, and turning our attention inward is a daunting task for most of us. To have a wandering mind is human nature, and not something to be ashamed of or try to hide, but also, that with practice, our busy monkey mind, can actually be tamed.
A starting point for meditation can be bringing your attention to your breath, following the flow of the breath in, as it fills you up, and the flow of the breath out, as your body releases and the muscles relax. The expectation that you will just be able to keep your mind on your breath, and that your mind won’t wander off in a million different directions is simply – unrealistic.
The wonderful thing about meditation is how it is not attached to a report card, there is no right, or wrong. There is simply practice. Each time you notice that your mind has wandered, (and that may be in ten seconds, or ten minutes) you bring it back to your focus of the breath, without judgment, without condemning yourself for having done a bad job. There is no ‘bad job’ in meditation. But…there are so many benefits. Tune for benefits next time.
Do you meditate? Do you do yoga? Join me for classes. Visit me at https://mshyoga.ca/virtual-class-schedule/ for more information!