Meditation is a necessity in our multifaceted lives, and yet it doesn’t come easily for most people. People want to try it, but they find it is more difficult than they ever imagined. How hard can it be?! Sitting up straight takes muscles that that we may not use, and that may take time to develop. Maybe we sit at a desk all day long, but our back is hunched over the computer. Sitting up straight and still may feel quite uncomfortable.
Yoga postures are a great way to prepare the body for meditation. Yoga is not only rejuvenating for the body but also the brain. Yoga postures were actually designed to systematically prepare the body to meditate, though with much of the yoga available nowadays, the link to meditation is rarely mentioned.
In Ananda Yoga for Higher Awareness, we teach yoga to prepare for meditation. All of the asanas are designed in a routine to help direct the energy into the spine, to be magnetically directed upward to the brain to awaken and lift our consciousness.
Yogananda said that getting into and out of a pose is as important as being in the pose itself. For example, in Ananda Yoga, when we raise our arms, we inhale. When we lower our arms to our sides, we exhale. We can move our arms up and down, in a graceful manner in cooperation with the breath, or we can lift the arms quickly and let them just drop, without connecting to the breath. We can flop down on a couch, or sit gracefully with ease and control.
When we begin to slow our breath and begin to sync it with our movement, we become calm. Then, we become closer to single minded purpose. By slowing down, we begin to accomplish more and we keep our attention in the present moment. This also helps to strengthen our body, as well as awareness, to prepare for meditation.
Meditation and yoga are interrelated. They are both part of the Eight Limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. They go hand and hand. They work together to unite our small self with our higher soul self. One cannot be present without the other. We need to be aware of the body in order to forget about it, in order to go inward in meditation.
Where the breath flows, the mind goes. In yoga and in meditation, we can raise our consciousness. Yoga helps us to bring the body to a point of stillness by clearing away the restless energy we carry around, and prepares us to become fully immersed in deep concentration, meditation. Yoga, like chanting, can help open our hearts and allow the energy to flow upward, to the higher chakras and higher consciousness.
“Be ever restful in your heart. A quiet spirit will help you instantly to resolve problems that might otherwise require days, weeks, or even months of fretful pondering.”— Swami Kriyananda
You can learn to meditate at The Expanding Light, by booking a stay with us, taking personal retreat or taking Learn How to Meditate. If you are a meditator, come join us for Meditation Teacher Training in the summer or fall of 2016.