muck_a_luck: (Yoga Namaste Two)
[personal profile] muck_a_luck posting in [community profile] sun_salutation
As I have mentioned before, I came to yoga as exercise. I was bored with my step/interval aerobics DVD, and was interested in a friend of mine's interest in yoga, but felt that yoga would not be enough of a workout. Another friend said "Two words: Power Yoga" and I set out on a journey that has now turned into years of home practice.

However, I have been mostly skeptical of meditation. Not meditation in general, but meditation for me. But over these years of asana practice, I have felt little nudges leading me toward a meditation practice.

For one thing, for me, asana practice actually has affected me, almost from the beginning, as a moving meditation. I have always practiced alone, in silence (with a few exceptions when one of the kids wakes up early and can't quit talking to me during), probably near half of it in the pre-dawn, and another quarter during the sunrise. Just me, a DVD that I've practically memorized, and my breath. Many times, I achieve an inner stillness that I believe is probably at least similar to the goals of meditation. And in trance dance, I can even get to the point of loss of boundary between myself and the outside. None of this has been intentional, but it has opened my mind (so to speak) to the idea that I could be a person who practiced meditation more deliberately.

Around the same time I was reaching this point in my practice, I heard this piece on the radio: Prayer May Reshape Your Brain ... And Your Reality. A few minutes a day for two months can change your immune system? That's powerful. Ever since hearing that, I have been pondering the idea of trying to meditate daily.

And finally, around New Years, I really tried to make the commitment. I have in no way meditated daily, but I have been meditating more. I have gotten to the point where I try to build in a seated or reclined meditation into my asana practices (at the very least never skipping Sivasana, as I have previously been wont to do), and on days when I don't practice, I have been trying to do a mini-mediation before bed, either seated or reclined. I focus on my breath and posture and try to allow my thoughts to be separate from myself, and to bring my attention back to my breath as thoughts arise. I have a lot of thoughts during this kind of meditation – far more than during asana practice or trance dance – but I try not to find this discouraging or to judge myself as being 'bad' at meditating. The point is to let the thoughts be, to concentrate on the now, to draw the attention back to the breath, and to move toward a daily practice. I figure maybe I will get better at not having quite so much mental chatter, but if not, then not. For days when I have more time/inclination to a longer seated mediation, I have a homemade set of meditation beads. I will not go so far as to call them mala beads. They are odd sizes, and there's no tassel. But there are 108 wooden beads to assist me in my meditation.

Anyway, all that said, I picked up Rodney Yee - Meditation & Yoga (Yoga For Meditation) (it seems to have two alternate titles) at the library this weekend.

It is divided into an introduction and five segments and runs around an hour in length. The first segment is Mountain, a very gentle hatha sequence that seems designed to get the kinks out and open your whole body up for ease of breathing.

Mountain is followed by Garden, a chair yoga sequence for opening the hips. I have never done any chair yoga, assuming it was to assist those not flexible or strong enough yet for a "real" asana practice. Live and learn! I was impressed by how using the chair as a prop allowed range of motion that really leveraged hip-opening.

Tree invites you to go to a wall with your yoga block and develop the traditional seated postures used for meditation. Mr. Yee explores Baddha Konasana, Virasana, Siddhasana, and Half and Full Lotus.

Wind is a reclined meditation to help bring focus to the breath.

Sky is a seated meditation, combining the posture guidance and breathing of the earlier sequences with a guided meditation.

The asanas of Mountain are appropriate for all levels of practitioners, though if you are not familiar with yoga you might want to plan to get some familiarity with these few postures so that you can integrate them into the achievement of a calm openness, rather than just be focused on how the postures are done. For a person who knows the asanas already, as usual Mr. Yee is very good at helping you to find the subtle adjustments that will better align your postures and help you to find balance.

The seated postures in Tree, however, are surprisingly challenging. Mr. Yee instructs each posture with a block first, then without. Also, I didn't have a convenient wall. Possibly this would have been easier if I had done as instructed. Mr. Yee again brings his ability to suggest adjustments that bring lightness and fluidity to the spine.

While Wind is not billed as the "meditation" segment, this is a great warm-up for the final meditation finale in Sky. Again, attention to the fluidity of the spine and the ease of the breath, and an added attentiveness to breathing. This is relaxing and establishes the beginning of the attentiveness of meditation.

By the time I got to Sky, I was feeling relaxed and open, ready to expand my mind though the feeling of the minor adjustments of my posture and the flow of my breath. For the first time, I felt during a seated meditation the same loss of boundary that I occasionally feel during my moving meditations.

For me, this DVD was an excellent aid to getting more deeply into a seated meditation. I don't know if it was the careful preparation prior to the beginning of the meditation, or if it was the guided nature of it, but I definitely recommend this DVD to anyone who is experimenting with meditation practice, like me.

Date: 2012-05-17 03:01 am (UTC)
julad: (Default)
From: [personal profile] julad
(sorry about deleted comment, trackpad fail)

Thanks for this post. I've been wanting to bridge more between meditation and yoga and this sounds like something that might really help with that.

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