Meditation Is Yoga (And Yoga Is Meditation)
By Mardi Rogers
Are you a keen yogi? Or do you prefer more meditative practices?
The truth is that both of the practices – what we often separately distinguish as meditation and yoga, are really aiming for the same thing – to reach a state of balance (aka. enlightenment/liberation/ union).
In this article I thought it might be useful to go through some basic fundamentals of yoga and meditation.
Yoga is Meditation
You may have noticed that some yoga exercises aren’t really much different to common fitness class exercises – so you could wonder when does an exercise or stretch become yoga?
I believe it’s when we bring a meditative awareness to the postures or exercises we’re doing. There’s an intention to bring awareness into the body during the exercises in yoga – which helps not only bring us more understanding of our individual bodies, but also helps promote self healing from within. Like a meditation technique uses a ‘meditation object,’ during yoga that object is your body, and your breath, and a deep awareness of movement, or stillness.
And there are other forms of yoga you can practice that don’t revolve around physical posture. So if you would like to practice more yoga, but have physical restrictions, or even if you’re looking for a deeper spiritual connection, you might like to check these out:
- Mantra & Laya Yoga – Use sound/vibration as a vehicle of transcendence (also Nada Yoga – the discipline of inner sound)
- Dhyana Yoga – the discipline of meditation
- Samkhya Yoga – the discipline and philosophy of insight into the nature of things (Referred in ancient text Mahabharata)
- Sahej Yoga – practice of a state of ease, flow and grace to serve with devotion
- Traatik Yoga – discipline of gazing on a sacred object
- Karma Yoga – selfless service without thought of reward
- Bhakti Yoga – a path of love and devotion, cultivating a deep spiritual connection to source
- Gyan (Jnana)Yoga – path of intellectual discrimination, practices knowing clearly, without the mind clouding, and seeing the divine in all
What I love about Kundalini Yoga is that it combines different forms (often with focuses on mantra, meditation or breath) to bring the practice more fullness.
Meditation is Yoga
While in the west the term yoga for most of us will conjure up images of beautiful flexible people bending their bodies in amazing postures on the beach, the heart of yoga (according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra – see below for more info) is actually an eight limb path – of which only one limb is physical posture – meaning there is a lot more to yoga than what we might think.
The word yoga simple means union – and the state of yoga is to unite our different aspects and bring them into balance. When we meditate we’re looking to access a more neutral/observational/non-reactive mind – which for many of us can seem non-existent. When we do, however, reach this state of non resistance it’s akin to being in a state of yoga – union.
So whether you’re doing yoga, or meditation, or both – the idea is to have the gentle, but disciplined, underlying aim of reaching a state of union for our body, mind and soul.
I hope this article gave you a little deeper understanding of your practice, or maybe more inspiration to delve deeper – or get yourself to a class or event.
And please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me know if you have any questions, or simply wish to say hi.
The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali
Ever wanted the wisdom to live a complete fulfilled life? Practice the 8 limbs of yoga!
Although believed to have been compiled sometime in the 2nd to 4th centuries, the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali is still considered one of the foremost texts on yoga to this day. Following is a brief outline of the eight limbs of yoga – which you may work towards to achieve a state of union/yoga. If you find these interesting further study can be found online, or translated books can be purchased, or maybe borrowed from your local library.
Briefly, the 8 limbs of yoga are:
- Five restraints (Yamas) non-harm, honesty, non-stealing, sensory control, non-possessiveness
- Five disciplines (Niyamas) purity, gratitude, determination, study, devotion
- Postures for health and meditation (Asanas)
- Control of breath (Pranayam)
- Synchronization of senses and thoughts (Pratyahar)
- One pointed concentration (Dharana)
- Deep meditation (Dyarana)
- Awakening and absorption in spirit (Samadhi)