Yoga and meditation are linked practices, and yoga cannot exist without meditation. Yoga is a holistic approach to wellness, which includes the improvement of your mental and emotional state. Ashtanga yoga has 8 limbs, with the last three focusing on concentration and eventually transcendent meditation. As higher steps in Ashtanga, it’s safe to assume meditation in yoga is an essential part of the practice. But what is meditation in yoga? And how different is it from merely meditating?
What Is Meditation In Yoga
Yoga’s 8 limbs all work together to reach enlightenment. Yoga is essentially a discipline that helps us connect to our true self, free from the entanglements of materialism and negativity that hinder us from freedom.
The last three limbs, namely, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, incorporate meditation to bring and keep you in a state of bliss.
- Dharana is the 6th limb and means focused concentration. To focus on one thing, you must be able to set all distractions aside. It is linked to the previous limb, which is withdrawal.
- Dhyana is the 7th limb and means meditative absorption. Only when we are wholly absorbed in the object of meditation, do we effectively meditate.
- Samadhi is the last and 8th limb and means enlightenment. This state is being able to see freely, without external biases and distractions, life as it is.
These three limbs prove that yoga and meditation are intertwined disciplines. The poses in yoga, allocated to the 3rd and 4th limbs of yoga, are usually done simultaneously with meditation because of the incorporated breathing techniques. And although the concepts seem a little abstract, we will simplify them and give you tips to start meditating.
The Benefits Of Meditation In Yoga
Meditation is simply defined as the act of contemplating, but meditation in yoga is different. There is a goal, and there is a process. It isn’t just clearing your mind for concentration.
It is shifting your attention to life in its entirety, which is why meditation in yoga is a lifetime process. If it sounds a little heavy, we’ll break down the benefits of meditation in your life.
- Meditation helps you relax.
We may not notice it right away, but our muscles grow tense and tight when we’re stressed. Meditation puts you in positions to properly align your spine, tone, and stretch your muscles that release the tension in your body.
- Meditation gives your thoughts clarity.
Our brain naturally zones out when it is overworking, and meditation produces the same effect but with a higher concentration and awareness. When you breathe deep and focus on your mantra, you give your thoughts clarity to boost productivity.
- Meditation improves relationships.
When you meditate, you know yourself and your desires, leading to self-realization and a willingness to change. In this sense, you create in yourself a healthy mindset that’s open to meaningful relationships.
- Meditation reduces stress and relieves your body and mind from stressors.
Our minds are susceptible to a variety of external stressors. It could be noise, a problem, or fatigue. Meditation is a form of healing for your mind and body, allowing you to reset so you’re equipped with the right attitude for a productive day ahead.
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5 Tips To Practice Meditation In Yoga
If you’re new to meditation, we have a few tips to get you started.
- Be in the moment.
It’s so easy to be distracted when we do what we feel are mundane things in life. If you’re eating, be completely aware of your food’s taste and texture instead of multitasking and scrolling through your social media feed.
- Concentrate on something specific.
Just like the 6th limb of Ashtanga yoga, which is all about concentration, it helps to focus on one thing to improve meditation. Some people focus on a mantra, a goal, or a question about oneself like, “what do I really want in life.” You can also think of a single idea like the sea or look at an object like a candle. The point is to shift to a deep singular focus that will eventually turn into a habit.
- Allot a few minutes daily to meditate.
Choose a specific time of the day to meditate. Early morning is ideal, but any time of the day will do, as long as you’re free from distractions.
- Position yourself the right way when meditating.
You can sit on a chair or the floor with your legs crossed to meditate. Your back must be straight, and your spine long, which means your body must still be engaged when you meditate.
- Focus on a single visual object.
Meditation involves concentration, and it helps to focus on a single visual object so you can meditate effectively. For people who are constantly distracted mentally and visually, this technique is a great way to start.
Contrary to popular notion, meditation in yoga is not about achieving a “blank mind.” It is resisting the urge of materialism and emotional and mental distractions to take over your being. Meditation is an essential step to achieve a state of “bliss,” and it’s not about a perpetual state of happiness. It is full awareness of the world around you without a taint of bias or discrimination. It is seeing the world for what it is with a soul that is freed.