Meditation yoga is a form of yoga that focuses on the body, mind, and spirit. There are many different forms of meditation yoga, so it can be used as part of a fitness program as well as a way of improving the emotional, psychological, and spiritual state. While meditation yoga should not replace any needed counseling or psychological help, it can add an important element to a fitness and wellness program. Here are the basic premises and practices that may be part of a meditation yoga practice.
Basic Premises and Ideas
Meditation yoga sets as a goal a feeling of oneness between the individual and the universe. The goals are also focused on self-realization. There are various forms of yoga that focuses on meditation and different aspects and types of meditation. Meditation yoga, therefore, is not one way of doing yoga but a group of approaches that put more emphasis on the mind, spirit, action and body than on just the body itself.
The word yoga means union in sanskrit. Honoring the traditional meaning of the word yoga, a practitioner focuses on learning about and experiencing the union between the microcosm of individuality and the macrocosm of the universe. There is also a focus on the union between what's called the center of consciousness, or the self, and the absolute reality. In meditation yoga, one learns about the union between energy that is static, latent, and unchanging with the energy that is active, manifesting and always changing.
Aspects of the Practice
There are many different ways to integrate meditation into a yoga practice. Often, meditation yoga includes a specific meditation practice, breathing practices, and relaxation exercises. An hour-long class may be divided into a 4-step process. It starts with stretching and physical postures which are considered the more external aspects of the self and work slowly toward the internal aspects of the practice. The second stage would then be a survey of the body and how relaxed or tense it is and might include systematic muscle relaxation and scanning the body with the mind's eye. The third step moves into specific breathing exercises such as regulated breathing or breathing in through one nostril and out the other. The last part of the hour is the meditation itself.
The meditation part of yoga involves focusing the mind and learning to gain more control over the activity of the mind. It often includes learning to only focus on the breath and the breath going through the body. Another focus is usually learning to push thoughts away. There are many different approaches to meditation and many ways to achieve more abilities in controlling the mind and tapping into the deeper experience of oneself. This part of the practice need not be in conflict with religion or any psychological treatment.
This form of yoga has physical, mental, and some say spiritual benefits. Stretching helps prevent injury in exercise and helps with blood flow and vitality. Meditation has been shown to help decrease blood pressure and increase an ability to handle stress and difficult emotions.