Meditation should be simple. It shouldn’t be hard to clear the mind and quiet the thoughts. When beginners try to meditate, however, stray thoughts frequently intrude, undermining the calming effects of meditation. Here are a few tips for meditating while doing Yoga.
Practice Meditation Outside Yoga Class
Don’t wait for your weekly Yoga class to meditate. The more you practice meditating, the more you’ll get out of your Yoga practice. Set aside ten minutes a day to do a brief meditation session. Sit on the floor or in a chair, with your back aligned and your head held high. Then take a deep breath through the nose, and release the breath through the mouth.
Repeat this for as long as you want, taking care to brush away any thoughts that pop into your head. As you get better at meditating, your Yoga skills will also improve.
When practicing meditation outside of Yoga class, some people like to set a timer and jump in headfirst. Others prefer to listen to guided meditation, which helps them to get into a calm, peaceful mindset. At the beginning of your meditation journey, try a few options to find out what works best for you.
Try Active Meditation
If clearing your mind has left you with more thoughts than ever, try focusing your attention on one specific aspect of your Yoga practice. Concentrate all of your energy on the feeling of your breath as it fills your lungs.
Fix your mind on the contraction of your stomach muscles as you find your balance. Focusing your attention in this way is known as active meditation. It streamlines your mental energy, which makes it a great first step in your meditation journey.
Count Your Breaths
If active meditation isn’t working for you, try counting your breaths. As you inhale through your nose, count to one. As you release your breath through your mouth, count to two. Keep counting until this rhythmic pattern allows you to reach a deeper state of meditation.
Maintain an Even Breathing Pattern
During your Yoga practice, you might find yourself breathing harder during strenuous poses. To maintain a meditative calm throughout the class, however, try to maintain a light, effortless breathing pattern.
Yoga focuses on the connection between the breath and the mind; when the breath is effortless, the mind quiets down. As you move from pose to pose, imagine that you’re sinking into your breaths.
Focus On One Point
During meditation, the eyes are often closed. That’s because it gives the attention a chance to rest, and it minimizes your reaction to environmental changes. For most of your Yoga practice, your eyes will remain open, as it helps with balance.
Instead of allowing your eyes to fly around the room, however, choose a spot on the wall or floor and focus on it. This promotes a tranquil, quiet mind.
Allow Thoughts to Drift Away
While practicing Yoga, don’t aim for an empty mind. Many people think that’s the ultimate goal of meditation, but that isn’t exactly true. Meditation aims to quiet the mind, but even experienced Yogis have trouble distancing themselves from all of their thoughts. Instead of trying to clear your mind, try to notice your thought patterns.
When you catch yourself planning tomorrow’s dinner during your downward dog, simply notice this digression, and gently pull yourself away from this unnecessary thought cycle. Don’t jerk your mind away from intrusive thoughts; simply let them drift past your mind’s eye like a leaf floating on a pond.
Not Too Full, Not Too Hungry
To enhance the meditative aspects of your Yoga practice, make sure you don’t come to class too full or too hungry. Meditation is best achieved on an empty stomach, as people often become drowsy or distracted after eating a full meal. A growling stomach can also be distracting, however. For a calm and peaceful mind, try practicing Yoga and meditation two hours after your last meal.
Draw Energy from the People Around You
In a Yoga class, you’re surrounded by people seeking to soothe their minds. As they move from pose to pose, breathing in and out, draw on their collective energy to slip into a deeper state of meditation.
Try a Body Scan
As you move through your Yoga class, consider practicing a body scan. This type of meditation focuses attention on each part of the body individually. Start by focusing on the area where your body meets the floor. Feel the weight of your body, as it sinks into your heels or hands or the sit bones.
You might notice the temperature of the floor, the pressure of gravity, and the feel of your skin. Allow your mind to wander from body part to body part, from head to toe. If you find unnecessary tension in your body, soften it. If you notice an itch or a twinge of pain, pass it by without reacting. Body scans are a great way to get in touch with your body during Yoga class.
If you find yourself struggling with meditation, don’t reproach yourself. Instead, consider this struggle with a compassionate eye. Self-love is a key component of any successful meditation practice.
At the end of your Yoga class, smile. You’re one step closer to a better you! Every Yoga class is an act of self-care. Enjoy your peaceful attitude and enhanced mindfulness, and try to apply the skills you learned in Yoga to your everyday life.