There is a stereotype of a real yogi. That to practice yoga you need to be thin and look good in a pair of yoga pants. Luckily for all of us - it isn’t true.
“I can’t even touch my toes!” “I would never be able to do that!” “I’m not a contortionist!” “Don’t you have to be flexible?”
Yoga teachers would be very wealthy if we had a nickel for every time we someone said one of these things to us. Maybe you have even heard them from a friend? Or maybe you yourself have thought one or more of these statements to be true.
What the heck is meditation? Why would I do it? How do I start?
Meditation is a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. Meditation has been practiced across most religious traditions and separate from them. Practitioners have found increased self-awareness, stress management and improved well-being.
There are two primary types of mediation.
Observational mediation is the practice of becoming an observer of your thoughts. The goal is not to become thoughtless but to become aware of your thoughts and avoid engaging in a narrative.
Try at home:
Sit in a comfortable seated position (chair or on a bolster), close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. As thoughts or sensations arise begin to label them. As a thought arises say to yourself “thinking” and send it away. Do you have an itch? Maybe you label it “feeling” and try to sit through it. Did a noise get your attention? Label it “noticing.” As you work through this practice notice the space between each sensation or thought.
Focused meditation directs your attention to a specific object – breath, object or mantra. The goal is to really experience whatever you are focusing on, whether it's your breath, a specific word or a mantra.
Try at home:
Find a comfortable seated position with a lit candle a few feet in front of you. Take a few deep inhales and exhales. Keeping your eyes open, focus a soft gaze on the candle. If your mind wanders rather than pursuing the thought let them go and bring your attention back to the candle.
Tips for success
Create a space that is free of distraction.
Get comfortable before you begin.
Begin with a few deep inhales and exhales.
Start with 5-10 minutes. Begin small and add time as you progress.
Be consistent. Meditation is a practice.