Myths About Yoga and Meditation

26
Nov
Meditation creates awareness, brings peace and understanding of others and ourselves, reduces anxiety and lowers blood pressure.  It’s our reset button.

Karen Britton

meditation

Tightness in my hamstrings rises like fire into my back.  I can barely move. Muscles feel like accordion bellows glued together, afraid to move as I might tear them apart. Mind suffers and everyone around me as well.

Our minds and bodies can quiet down and relax with a practice of yoga and meditation. You think you’re not flexible enough to start yoga? I have good news!  You don’t have to be flexible to begin. Yoga will make you flexible. It’s like saying you’re not strong enough to lift weights.

There’s no single meaning of yoga.  Yoga means union, to unite, also to control and to discipline.  It means to concentrate, still the mind, rise above thoughts, and create awareness.

There are a plethora of benefits to practicing yoga besides increasing flexibility.  The video below demonstrates the posture warrior three.  This pose improves balance, strengthens and tones shoulders, back, spine, glutes, core, thighs, hamstrings, ankles, and will tone and strengthen hips.

Video Demonstration of Warrior Three Pose

While in yoga poses we focus on breath and one neutral point. This helps to improve your concentration and quiets the mind. Not just on the mat but you train the brain to focus when you’re off the mat.  Yoga becomes meditation in motion.

Which brings us to myths of meditation.  The most common things I hear are, “I can’t meditate because I can’t stop my thoughts.” Or, “ I can’t empty my mind.”  Meditation is not about stopping the wave of thoughts. That’s like telling the ocean to stop waving.  Meditation teaches us to relax with thoughts and rise above thoughts. Meditation is not about emptying the mind. Thoughts will flow, come and go. We strengthen our brains through meditation and learn to respond with new habits rather than react with old habits.

Meditation creates awareness, brings peace and understanding of others and ourselves, reduces anxiety and lowers blood pressure.  It’s our reset button.

Try this little meditation technique. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Inhale slowly and silently to yourself say the word “In,” and as you exhale, silently to yourself say the word “Out.” Keep repeating this. When the mind wanders, notice, and return back to the breath and repeating the words “In” and “Out.” Then try to just focus on the breath. Come back to the words as often as you need.

Remember, each time your mind wanders and you return back to your breath, that’s one rep to strengthen the brain.  Just like when you lift weights, each rep strengthens the muscle.

Below are detailed instructions for warrior three. Use a chair to hold onto, or a wall to help you balance if needed.

  1. Stand with feet together.
  2. Bring awareness to your breath, breathe deeply. Focus ahead on one neutral point, something still.
  3. Bring your arms straight out to the sides shoulder height.
  4. Shift your weight into your left foot as you slide your right foot back; keep the toes on the floor.
  5. Square your hips to the floor, engage lower abdomen and right gluteal muscle.
  6. When you engage your right gluteal muscle, toes will lift a little. Stay here to modify.
  7. Or begin to lift your right leg off the floor to your degree, and press out through the right heel and press down into the left foot.
  8. Work towards lifting the right leg higher, parallel to the floor.
  9. Keep back straight, back of neck and head in line with spine.
  10. Pull front ribs back and keep lower abdomen engaged.
  11. Option to bend straight leg for more challenge.
  12. Work up to holding for five breaths.
  13. Repeat on the other side.

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About the Author

Karen Britton

Karen Britton

Karen Britton is a certified Yoga Instructor and a regular contributor to Fit to Print. She teaches Yoga classes and programs at Fitness Incentive.

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