Yoga and meditation is a process quite similar to starting a relationship with someone. First, you make contact. Once the mutual interest is established, you get closer to the person, develop a deep friendship, and eventually become partners. There’s no one way to develop a relationship, just as there are a variety of ways to meditate. Hatha yoga, which is deeply intertwined with meditation, requires a higher level of concentration and relaxation.
The use of sound is one of the most focal points of mantra yoga, with emphasis on a sound or phrase that will be repeated over and over. The use of sound through chanting is a powerful way to meditate, as it dates back to the Vedic times and utilizes the power of sound in order to enter into an expanded state of awareness.
Imagery is another good method. This involves the use of an object in mind, may it be a holy deity or an item that gives you inner peace.
Gazing, on the other hand, refer to having an open-eyed focus upon a subject. This kind of focus, known as drishti, offers limitless option, be it just gazing at a candle or focusing on a flower vase.
You can also focus through breathing, primarily by counting your breaths and purely observing the nuances and the sensations being produced. Notice how your breath moves from your abdomen, through your torso, and out of your nose. This is a predominant technique used in visappana, and has been popularized by the likes of Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
Lastly, you can use your physical sensations as your object of meditation, like how warm or cold your hands feel, how your spine perfectly supports your lower back, or how strong your arms feel. These are physical sensations that you should use as a point of focus throughout the entire practice.
Aside from the different ways to meditate, there are also a variety of postures that will help make the meditation process a full experience. One is by sitting—a recommended and basic position that can take one of the following forms: Sukhasana (cross-legged pose), Padmasana (lotus pose), or sitting in a chair.
Walking is a moving meditation that you may find enjoyable, with each step as a focal point in yoga and meditation. Standing cam also be powerful and build mental, physical, and spiritual strength. Lastly, the reclining position is often done by lying on your back with your arms at both sides and your palms upward.
Yoga and meditation: The Perfect Formula
Starting Your Own Meditation Practice
We highly recommend a period of daily meditation. Add it to the end of your asana practice, or set aside another block of time. The important thing is that you find a time that works best for you. Don’t do too much too soon; you’re apt to get discouraged and stop altogether.
When and Where to Practice
To establish consistency, meditate at the same time and in the same place every day. Choose a place that is quiet, one that is pleasant, where you’ll be undisturbed.
Traditionally, the morning is considered the optimal time because you are less likely to be distracted by the demands of your day. Many people find that a morning meditation helps them enter the day with a greater degree of equanimity and poise. However, if a morning practice is a struggle, try an afternoon or early evening meditation.
If you are new to yoga and meditation, you may find adding five or 10 minutes of meditation at the end of your asana practice enough. When meditating independently of your yoga practice, a 15- to 20-minute time frame seems manageable for most beginners. (Read more here)
Meditation does have a lot of considerations. The most important, perhaps, is that you choose a point of focus and continue on affirming it. Your choice of position and style does matter, but ultimately, what will make your practice work is your intent to focus.