Top Three meditations from a Yoga Teacher

Most of the time, when someone says they practice yoga, they are talking about just the poses. They are referring to the sequence of poses they do on a yoga mat, either in a class setting or following along online. Modern yoga has become very absorbed by the poses and although meditation is gaining a lot of popularity, it still doesn’t receive the same attention and most of the time we think of it as separate to yoga. However, the word Yoga (Sanskrit) is actually the umbrella word used for many different practices. The direct translation for Yoga is ‘yoke’ – to yoke/unify mind, body and spirit. 

Depending on the style or lineage of yoga you follow, there will be different categories. The yoga we most commonly see in the West has been inspired by Ashtanga and Hatha stylesWhich gains its wisdom and insights from ‘The Eight Limbs of Yoga’.  Yama (abstinences), Niyama (observances), Asana (yoga postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (absorption). 

So often we assume that meditation (Dhyana) and yoga is separate, but really they are intrinsically combined to give you a synergetic and harmonious experience. Unifying body (asana), mind (Dhyana) and spirit. By adding meditation to your asana practice, you can begin to deepen your practice and understanding of yoga. Even if you go to group classes, you can add meditation into your daily routine or if you following along online and they don’t share a meditation, you can easily add it to the beginning or the end. You don’t even need to practice the poses to practice meditation. You also don’t have to be spiritual to meditate.  

We tend to think that we have to carve out a large part of our day to mediate and that the longer we meditate the betterBut really 5 minutes of being present with yourself, is far more valuable than 20 to 30 minutes of being annoyed and frustrated that you can’t clear your mind and you can’t stop thinking.  

Meditation isn’t about not thinking. It’s impossible for the mind to not think, we have to be thinking, otherwise we are not alive. But what meditation does is brings you to the present moment, it gives you this wonderful opportunity to be still, slow down your breath and observe your thoughts and feelings. When we do this we become aware of the thoughts we are experiencing. Once you become aware, you can begin to see them clearer and start to sift through the self-limiting patterns and the unhelpful mind loops that simply do not serve youIt can be a very subtle experience because as a modern society we spend so much time sending our attention and energy outward, that we don’t spend time turning inward. After we dedicate time to the practice and turn inwards regularly, we become attuned to the delicate workings of the mind. 

Here are three meditations that I do and also teach in my classes. One of them also includes breath control (pranayama) another limb of yoga. You can sit for as long as you like in these meditations, I personally try to do 10 minutes. But is great tooI invite you to try one for a few days, even a week and then move onto the next. What’s great about these three meditations is that they touch upon different methods. One is counting, one is observation and one is concentration.  

 

2-1 meditation - 2-to-1 breathing helps regulate the motion of the lungs and quiet both the nervous system and the energy fields that influence the body and mind. By using these techniques to facilitate relaxation, we can become serene and stabilize our minds. The extended exhalation activates our parasympathetic nervous system. The part of our nervous system that regulates our ‘rest and digest’. So this breath helps with digestion as well as calming the mind. 

  1. Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open.Relax your body and begin to focus on your breath as it passes through the nostrils. Tune in to the cool touch of the inhalation.  
  2. After a few breaths, place your righthand over your naveland the left to the heart. Slowly deepen your breath, following the breath as it expands the belly and ribcage on the inhale, moving all the way up to the shoulders and softens on the exhale. 
  3. Once you are breathing calmly, begin to mentally count the duration of inhalation and exhalation, letting them beequal in length. The average person is comfortable with a 6-count breath—the in-breath and the out-breath last for 3 counts each. Continue to let your breath flow quietly and smoothly through the nostrils. Enjoy the tranquility created by this practice of breath awareness, and allow your mind to settle into the counting experience. 
  4. When you are ready, begin to lengthenyour exhalationTo achieve this contract the abdominal muscles, pushing additional air out of the lungs as you reach the end of the exhalation. On your next inhalation, slowly and smoothly release the contracted muscles, letting the next inhalation still be a count of 3. Gradually adjust your breathing to achieve a 2-to-1 ratio, exhaling for 6 and inhaling for 3. You can also increase this to 8-4. 

When practiced correctly, 2-to-1 breathing eliminates volatile wastes from the lungs while calming and nurturing the nervous system.” – Chopracentre.com  

 

Simple orbit – There are many ways to stimulate the flow of energy in the body. One way is through awareness and breath, it’s simple yet a very effective way to release stuck energy and  restore balance to the mind and body. 

  1. Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open.Relax your body and begin to focus on your breath as it passes through the nostrils. Tune in to the cool touch of the inhalation. 
  2. Bring your awareness to the heart center, the space at the center of your chest.
  3. Exhale. As you inhale, feel or imagine energy flowing down your spine to the tip of the sacrum. 
  4. As you exhale, reverse this, and follow the energy as it flows back up to the heart space. 
  5. Repeat this for as long as you like. Slowing the breath down, ensuring the inhale and exhale is equal, smooth and effortless.

 

Nadi Shodhana - Alternate nostril breathing. A simple yet powerful technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions. You can use it to quiet your mind and it is particularly helpful to ease racing thoughts if you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep. 

With just a few minutes of alternate nostril breathing, you can restore balance and ease in the mind and body. Sometimes when we feel frazzled or find ourselves doing too many things at once, it’s because energetically, we are out of alignment. This breath is great for restoring that necessary balance. 

In addition to calming the mind and reversing stress, alternate nostril breathing also: 

  • Improves our ability to focus the mind 
  • Supports our lungs and respiratory functions 
  • Restores balance in the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and clears the energetic channels 
  • Rejuvenates the nervous system 
  • Removes toxins 
  • Settles stress 

Whether you’re nervous about a project or presentation, anxious about a conversation, or just generally stressed out, Nadi Shodhana is a quick and calming way to bring you back to your center.” – YogaInternational.com 

  1. 1.Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open. 
  1. 2. Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap and bring your right hand just in front of your face. 
  1. 3.With your right hand, bring your index finger and middle finger to rest on your palm. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger. 
  1. 4.Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose. 
  1. 5.Close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily. 
  1. 6.Close the left nostril with your ring finger, as you release the thumb from right nostril. 
  1. 7. Breath slowly out the right side. 
  1. 8. Inhale through the right side slowly. Close it off with the thumb and exhale through the left. Inhale through the left and begin the cycle again. 
  1. 9.. You can repeat this for 10-15 cycles or 3-5 minutes. 
  1. 10.When you’ve completed the cycles, remain seated and bring your awareness to the point in between the brows. The third eye center. Keep your attention there as you rest with the affects and follow the breath. 

 By Heather Brown

HEATHER BROWN

YOGA / WELLNESS

Hi, I'm Heather a yoga teacher of four years and a practitioner for nearly 10. I began yoga to build strength and flexibility for surfing and snowboarding. However, as time passed my original intentions began to shift. I no longer was returning over and over again for the physical aspects, I was returning because the yogic teachings began to have a profound impact on my life. I yearned for more and delved deep into the intricate studies of yoga. Teaching and sharing yoga is one of the most natural things for me, it lights me up and fills me with joy. But it's not all that I do and love. I live on the East coast of Nova Scotia, Canada and surf as much as I can. I use to live in the mountains of British Columbia and snowboarded as much I could. Things that mean everything to me include: sitting in circles with women of all ages and backgrounds, spending time in nature, continuing to read and learn from people wiser than myself and always having a good supply and variety of tea.

www.heatherteachesyoga.com/

 

 

 

 

 


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