for Yoga practitioners means something rather different from
what is intended by this word in Western societies. In the
western world ‘meditation or meditating’ refers to ‘thinking
deeply’ whilst in Yoga the term meditation refers
exclusively to focusing the mind on one thing only, which
could be an object, the breath, or awareness of the self
(as for the more subtle types of meditation). ‘Thinking’ and
‘thoughts’ are not involved in any way; in fact, the
emphasis is on trying to clear the mind from thoughts.
Since Yoga is
essentially a discipline based on practice (as opposed to a
set of mere theories), meditation has a determinant role for
the yoga practitioner.
There are different meditation techniques
and which technique to use depends exclusively on the
individual and on what works for him or her.
Regardless of what technique is used, it
is essential to sit with a straight back. You may sit
cross-legged, or on a chair or armchair, as long as you keep
your back straight it does not really matter.
If you chose to sit cross-legged, it is generally helpful to
sit in a raised position (e.g. on a cushion, folded blanket)
so that your pelvis is lifted. This will release some
pressure from your legs which may otherwise cause you some
A very important
point about meditation is being relaxed. You must
avoid feeling tense whilst you are sitting down trying to
meditate. Just relax and let go of all the tension in your
body and your mind. A good way of ensuring that you are in a
relaxed state is to first perform a yoga routine with asana
postures and then sit down and meditate. Your body will be
far more relaxed and inclined to sit still for a prolonged
period of time.
Now let’s turn to
some yoga techniques. Remember that no technique is better
than another. You just need to pick the technique that is
right for you.
1) Forcing mind/thoughts. This is just a
preparatory exercise. Try for 1 hour not to think, stopping
every thought that comes to your mind. Then the following
day try to do the opposite, try to think continuously for 1
This exercise will help you appreciate
that in fact you cannot force your mind/thoughts
2) Breaths counting. Whilst in a relaxed
state, concentrate on your breathing and count your
exhalations. Count 20 of them, and then count backwards to 1
and then start again.
3) Associate a sound to the breathing.
Whilst you inhale, say in your head the word ‘Hong’, and
when you exhale say (in your head) the word ‘So’. Try to be
as relaxed as possible. Your breathing will become almost
imperceptible. This technique is very effective at calming
4) Concentrate on internal body sounds.
Try to focus your awareness on these sounds only and ignore
everything else around you.
5) Awareness of the Self. In this
technique you just have to ‘be aware’. If your mind starts
to wonder, keep the awareness. If the mind stays focused,
keep the awareness also. Always maintain awareness. This is
a rather ‘subtle’ technique and some people can find it a
bit difficult to begin with. If so, try the other techniques
which focus on slightly more tangible things such as sounds
The most important
thing is to keep practicing on a daily basis. If you
do, you will obtain amazing results. One of the first
benefits you will notice is an incredible enhanced
concentration during your everyday tasks. You will have the
impression that time is expanding as you will perform the
same everyday tasks in a much shorter period of time. You
will also experience increased calm, less tension (and
therefore less tension headaches and bodily pains), greater
creativity and imagination and more energy. And this is just