Try two additional aspects of Yoga: Meditation & Pranayama
Go Beyond Asana Practice & Experience the Union of Body, Mind, spirit
Today, Yoga has lost most of its spiritual underpinnings as it is expanding in the West, and many individuals now practice yoga primarily as a form of a physical exercise – for stretching and strengthening.
Yoga was once a mind-body and soul practice with significant religious and spiritual elements on the Indian subcontinent, but you wouldn’t know it from just a few yoga sessions at a modern yoga studio.
Yoga in its fullest sense goes beyond just the physical aspect, which is known as the asana practice. Also, it is a path to tune in with your inner self.
Why Do You Need to Go Beyond Your Asana Practice?
Simply, because asana is just one part of it, and Yoga as a whole is more than that.
If you are flexing and stretching on your mat, then that’s not the ancient and spiritual way of practicing yoga.
Plus, you perhaps won’t ever realize the additional essential parts of yoga, which can help shape your mind and provide spiritual healing to your soul.
To understand this better, here are the eight limbs of yoga, which Sage Patanjali documented in his book Yoga Sutras:
- Yamas (Hindu Ethical Standards)
- Niyamas (Self-Discipline and Spiritual Obedience)
- Asana (Body Postures)
- Pranayama (Breath Control)
- Pratyahara (Withdrawal or Sensory Transcendence)
- Dharana (Concentration & Mindfulness)
- Dhyana (Meditation or Contemplation)
- Samadhi (State of Ecstasy or Nirvana)
Yoga aims to reach oneness with our true selves or Nirvana. And, to be there, we need to attain all the eight limbs in chronological order with an integrated practice of Asana, Meditation, and Pranayama.
Exploring Yoga Meditation & Pranayama
The practices of meditation focus and pranayama breathing are two aspects of yoga that are still in the process of becoming trendy terms in the realm of overall well being.
Many people are still attempting to determine how these terms are the same or different because they are sometimes used interchangeably.
So, let us investigate and discover some fundamental strategies that you can understand as well as practice regularly in your life.
Yoga refers to the body, mind, and spirit coming together. As mentioned before, yoga consists of eight arms or aspects. Body poses and stretches known as asanas, are what the western world is more commonly familiar with. Let’s explore two more aspects of yoga.
Meditation in yoga focuses on mental relaxation and concentration.
Here, the focus is on the flow of one’s thoughts.
Pranayama, a yogic breathing practice, guides you to control your breath in different ways.
When you have better control over how you breathe, you can better manage your brain and body function.
Our breath is the connecting connection between body, mind and spirit; uniting them in better harmony so that we can experience our oneness or wholeness.
Being conscious of one’s breathing automatically regulates one’s mental process, allowing the mind to relax entirely, and this also helps you become more spiritually mindful.
3 Easy Tips to Add the Yoga Practices of Meditation & Pranayama Breath into Your Lifestyle
We all want a quiet, tranquil, stable, and concentrated mind.
We’ve seen yogis, monks, perhaps some of our friends and family, demonstrate that state of complete tranquility and bliss.
But, how can we prepare our senses to remain tranquil despite the chaos surrounding us which shows up as such as stress, anxiety, work pressure, emotional problems, and internal conflicts?
Developing a practice of meditation and pranayama breath can be challenging for beginners.
Do not stress about it; do what you can when you can.
Go slowly and in short increments to start, due to enthusiasm it is easy to set unrealistic objectives which can lead to a lack of motivation to practice at all.
With eyes closed, sitting comfortably, start your yoga session with 5 minutes of gratitude meditation. Try to concentrate on the things which make you happy in your life, and just be thankful for them. Gently keep breathing.
For the purposes of a beginning practice, focus for 5 minutes of pranayama breath flow. Still sitting in a comfortable position, allow any negative thoughts to drift away and simply feel your breath flowing in and out. There is no forcing of thoughts, flow what comes naturally, and slowly, you will get there. Simply keeping the attention on the breath will make room for deep relaxation. At some point as you develop your practice you can learn specific breath techniques through instruction. These will have specific health benefits for your practice. For now the simple breath is fine to get started.
Once you are able to experience meditation focus and gratitude and pranayama focus through breathing, you can begin to practice them together for longer durations (like – 15 to 30 minutes). You may learn some mantra chants to add or play healing meditative sounds. In the beginning longer practices are not the goal. Making a regular time even for short practice will help you build this wellness practice into your life. The longer durations will come to you naturally as you build and flow your practice.
The Final Note
If you don’t have much time and you’re a busy bee, feel free to break up your practice throughout the day.
You can split 15 minutes of meditation/pranayama practice into 5 minutes of practice three times a day.
Also, please keep in mind that meditation and pranayama are not the same things though they are both aspects of the eight arms of yoga.
Even though they both entail focus and breathing, meditation is a discipline of growing mental awareness of our habitual thought patterns, while pranayama is a practice of refining breathing ability and awareness of prana flow ( breath of life-giving force).
Have a wonderful Meditation and Pranayama Session!
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In every difficult situation Yoga for me has been an outlet and enlightenment as well as awakening. I have been soul searching all my life and could not find any answers to why there is so much inner suffering.
When I hit rock bottom by making the biggest decision of my life with my two children. Putting my head on the yoga mat has saved me by asking questions throughout doing asanas and every pose gave me clarity in life. I started answering my own questions by digging deep inside myself and finding solutions to all my questions.
Yoga has changed my life and I started to have a more positive outlook on life, Happiness within, and gained confidence to start being more aware of my intuition.
Yoga to me is serenity, my altar, my prayers and my inner peace.
READ MORE About INDU KAUR Yoga Instructor
At a very young age I was fortunate to meet a real Yoga Master, Swami Bua Ji Maharaj. He became my Guru (teacher/guide). I was able to learn all the intricacies of yoga with his constant, strict and vigilant supervision.
Yoga became a lifestyle for me. Something you can never learn in a single yoga class.
It incorporates all aspects of my daily life, from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. Everything I do, any simple task, such as brushing my teeth or cooking a meal has a purpose. It is performed with “awareness”.
Since all our lives are imperfect, they are full of ups and downs, struggles, THIS yoga practice is continuous. It gives me a profound insight on life. I have to remain vigilant. I had to become humble and admit to my own downfalls.
My goal is to one day become a “realized soul”.
READ MORE About Patricia D’Angelo
A couple of decades ago, as a single mother coming out of massage school, I was blessed to join in meditation at the Atlanta chapter of Lous Center.
The main center located in Oklahoma City, had been started by a wise teacher Audle Alison, who had been a student of Dr. Thind who was a student and contemporary of Yogananda.
My teacher at the Lotus Center, later to become the Christ Center, was a student and successor to Audle Allison. This center was originally built to help Vietnam vets traumatized by war find their way back to themselves and their lives through meditation. The practices spread to chapters all over the country with retreats four times a year at the main center.
Meditation and breathwork have expanded and broadened my life and have influenced my sense of harmony and love for all things seen and unseen.
Meditation not only can calm the mind, body and spirit but can also bring connection and answers to the many mysteries of life. The great All that we are a part of has given us these gifts of focus and practice for the betterment of all. Regardless of one’s spiritual or religious orientation, practice in all aspects of mindful focus can bring peace and is a privilege and gift for all who seek.
READ MORE about Marianne Hennigar Wellness coach and Pain management specialist