Yoga meditation: A beginner's guide
Get started on the road to a meditation practice with this guide for beginnersBy Amanda Vogel
When you think of doing yoga, your first association might be with the physical practice: moving through the yoga poses and practising yoga breathing. But meditation—the act of focusing your mind—is also part of a well-rounded yoga experience.
Learning to meditate in yoga involves more than sitting still for a few moments each day. The reason? Your mind might still be sifting through a barrage of thoughts and worries. “Yoga meditation is about quieting a busy mind,” says Wade Imre Morissette, a yoga teacher in Vancouver, B.C., and author of Transformative Yoga: Five Keys to Unlocking Inner Bliss. “The more you’re able to quiet your thoughts through yoga meditation, the more you experience a sense of true presence,” he says. And being in the moment helps create that beneficial mind-body connection that yoga is known for.
How to meditate in yoga
The first step to successful meditation is practicing it often. But even in a class where the yoga teacher sets time aside for meditation, getting the hang of how to meditate can be quite challenging, whether you’re a beginner to yoga or you’ve been taking yoga classes for a while. Considering that serious yogis spend a lifetime honing the art of meditation, there’s no sense in pressuring yourself to perfect your own meditation technique after just a few sessions.
Yoga meditation for beginners
“An easy way to learn how to meditate is to focus on the here and now,” says Morissette. When you’re mindful about being in the moment, there’s no room for your attention to be pulled toward distracting thoughts about the past or future. “That can be very freeing,” says Morissette.
He recommends beginning with active meditation, where you focus your thoughts on something specific. “The idea is to streamline your attention to only one thing at a time, like your breathing or gazing at a candle flame.”
When you’re first trying out this meditation technique, says Morissette, be prepared for your mind to wander sometimes. Whenever you become aware that your thoughts have drifted, simply redirect your mental focus back to the present.
Want to give yoga meditation a try? Follow Morissette’s advice for getting started.
• Set aside just a few minutes at first. Choose a time of day when you’re able to meditate without interruption. You might coordinate your meditation so you do it right before or after a physical yoga practice.
• Sit with good posture either on the floor, cross-legged, or in a chair if it’s more comfortable. (If seated cross-legged, switch which leg is crossed on top each time you meditate.)
• Gaze at a simple object such as a candle’s flame or a black dot written on a piece of paper. Or, close your eyes and home in on the rhythm of your yoga breathing.
• As you become more familiar with how to meditate, increase your practice by a minute or two at a time.
Finally, to avoid frustration, remember this common yoga meditation myth: “Meditating is not about achieving a blank mind,” says Morissette. “It’s more about resisting the temptation to react to the thoughts that do pop into your head.”
Don't miss out! Sign up for our free weekly newsletters and get nutritious recipes, healthy weight-loss tips, easy ways to stay in shape and all the health news you need, delivered straight to your inbox.
Web exclusive: December 2010