Meditation has undoubtedly made its way to the forefront of new age philosophy. Everywhere you turn there’s another person claiming to reap its benefits.
To put it briefly, meditation is the practice of calming the mind to induce a trans like state. This practice, if done regularly, has a wide array of benefits: both physical and mental.
“As you can see, meditation techniques vary with the individual and are geared towards different outcomes. Some deal with inner mind work, some with procuring your dreams, some for unlocking hidden spiritual paths and potential. In the beginning, I recommend trying different types in order to see what works best for you and YOUR goals.”(TheOrganicPlaylist.com)
If you want a more in depth look in the different aspects and benefits of regular meditation, check out this post on the 10 Benefits of Meditation.
Yoga is the practice of combining the use of breathing techniques, meditative states, and physical postures to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Created from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to bind, the earliest known record of yoga dates back 2000 years! Sage Patanjali is accredited to culminating the practice into the Yoga Sutra. For example, the yogajournal.com writes: “The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas(observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).
As we explore these eight limbs, we begin by refining our behavior in the outer world, and then we focus inwardly until we reach samadhi (liberation).”
Meditation “vs” Yoga
More in western culture, obvious differences can be observed when comparing the practices of yoga and meditation. While meditation is regularly done in a stationary relaxed position, yoga involves the body’s parts: adding mobility and the bonus effect of stretching the limbs.
There are a wide variety of meditative practices that never mention yoga however, yoga rarely forgets to mention meditation. So, oddly enough, yoga and meditation are essentially one and the same. As you learn more about yoga, it becomes obvious that one cannot bring up yogic practices without first understanding their meditative origins or purpose.
It is widely known that yoga is a practice of physicality but unbeknownst to most, its complex structure aims to train the mind and spirit as well. Lets begin with the basics. Yoga is comprised of branches that serve different purposes. . Some of these Branches include:
- Hatha Yoga– Hatha, deriving from the word “to strike”, refers to the striking of the body with postures and to “yoke” the mind into singular focus. Hatha yoga symbolizes the connection of sun and moon bringing the world and the physical body into balance.
- Raja Yoga– Considered the Royal path, the term raja translates to “king.” Considered the yoga of meditation, Raja hopes to focus and still the mind. The practice of establishing ” “a mental link with the supreme source of all spiritual energy and power, the Supreme Soul, with the purpose of freeing the individual soul from misery, pain, fear, illness, and phobias, and enabling the soul to experience peace, happiness and lasting health and prosperity.” (8limbsyoga.com)
- Bhakti Yoga– Considered the yoga practice of unyielding devotion. Devotion shown by using emotional forces to channel life energy directly to the Supreme. This union, viewed by some, can be compared to an actual love relationship with a divine being. The most “dogmatic”. of the practices.
- Karma Yoga– referred to as a form of self sacrifice for God. This practice reserves the right of action for the greater good. The practice of self restraint.
“T. Krishnamacharya, a South Indian yogi born in 1888, is said to be the “grandfather of modern yoga.” One of Krishnamacharya’s key philosophies was that yoga should be adapted to the individual, not the individual to yoga. This rule informed his practice as he taught many of the 20th century’s leading yogis, including Pattabhi Jois, Iyengar, and his son, TKV Desikachar, who were instrumental in bringing yoga to the West. These are the teachers that have most inspired 8 Limbs’ philosophy” (Yogajournal.com)
The eight fold path, or “ashtanga”, refers to the lifestyle of yoga. Each limb represents an aspect of life that needs to fall into balance. Through moral, physical, and spiritual discipline, one is taught what it means to live a life with purpose.
Like stated previously, Yoga is also made up of 8 limbs (stages) that serve as a guide to spiritual evolution. These lims
- Yama– Yama is the first limb of yoga and deals with an individual’s ethical or moral code. Understanding the flaws in our behavior and how it correlates with the way we live. In this branch, only one golden rule presides: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
- Niyama– The second limb of yoga is Niyama and calls attention to discipline. Refining and honing the discipline needed to form beneficial habits like meditating regularly, attending church services, and prayer.
- Asana– The third limb of yoga deals with the act of concentration and physical discipline. This limb calls for viewing the body as a yogi: understanding that the body is temple and one of the most important pieces in spiritual growth.
- Pranayama – The fourth limb of yoga meaning “breath control/restraint”, deals with the practice of different breathing techniques and how they affect the brain. Through controlled breath, a yogi is “freed” from the shackles of the mind.
- Pratyahara– The fifth limb of yoga meaning to “draw in or draw back” refers to the act of being so focused, one is unaffected by outside sources when meditation. Often referred to as the limb of withdrawal, In this limb, the yogi detaches from the world around him by focus alone. In this state he is so detached, he no longer can be distracted by the outside world.
- Dharana – The sixth limb of yoga is Dharana which translates to “focused concentration.” Dharana and pranayama go hand in hand as the two limbs that deal with great acts of focus. While the fifth limb draws in the senses of the external environment, Dharana is the conquering of the internal mind. Dharana sets the stage for Dhyana.
- Dhyana – The seventh limb of yoga is Dhyana. Similar to its previous limbs, Dhyana represents the meditative state uninterrupted by outside or inside influences. The practice of “one-pointed attention.” At this stage the mind is predominately still leaving the yogi/yogini in a state of being highly receptive without compromising concentration.
- Samadhi – The eighth and final limb of yoga. Samadhi represents a state of complete bliss. The point of focus because so tense, the yogi or yogini transcends self altogether. The mind is overcome to state an of direct connection to the divine. This limb is the goal of yoga and apex of yogic practice.
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” explains Dr. Nevins. “Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.” (osteopathic.org)
Just like meditation, Yoga offers a wide variety of health benefits. Some 0f these include:
- Maintains a healthy metabolism
- Protects from future injuries
- Increases flexibility
- Builds muscle and core strength
- Helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular and respiratory system
- Improves athletic ability
- Increases stamina
- Helps to eliminate addiction
How do I start?
- Yoga Classes– Yoga is so widely practiced today, usually classes can be found in any major city or Town. Considering that its so largely in demand, oddly enough yoga class prices are fairly manageable. Classes can range anywhere from 10$-30$ a class. A good way to begin a yoga the right way is to find an instructor to make sure you’re heading down the right path.
- Yoga DVD – Another way to begin yoga is to purchase an at home yoga DVD. These give the added effect of having an instructor without the cost of going to class. A yoga DVD can range from 9 – 15$ for a single DVD, and up to 70$ for an entire set.
- At home Poses– Another way to begin yoga is to start out with basic poses at home that take little technique.
4 At Home Yoga Poses
Stand tall with your feet planted flat on the floor. Full extend arms until they are completely straight above your head and hold. Make sure the tips of your finger tips touch.
Downward Dog Pose
Begin on all fours in dog position. Inch your hands forward until partially extended. Raise hips to the ceiling and curl toes. Hold this position for as long as desired.
The Warrior Pose
Begin with legs 3 feet apart while turning your right fight about 90 degrees. Next, extend arms while bending right knee directly above the knee. Alternate by switching sides.
Begin by lying flat on the floor. Push your knees up until they are directly above your heels. Place arms at sides, then left hips towards the ceiling and hold.
Hopefully by now your not asking what is yoga mediation, your asking when and where do i start! This concludes our post on everything you need to know about yoga.
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