Whenever I teach a fresh batch of children, I ask, "What's yoga?" There is always at least one child, sitting in "criss-cross-applesauce" (i.e. modified lotus), who rests their hands on their knees, with palms turned up and begins to utter a low moan or chant. Then they burst into hysterics.
Meditation is a piece of yoga-a very important piece. Yoga asana was developed by the ancients as a way to enable sitting in meditation for long periods of time.
To many, a meditation practice can seem daunting and something reserved for monks and other holy men. Meditation is not easy, but at same time it is not unreachable. Incorporating a meditation practice into your daily fitness routine can help with weight loss, stress management, focus and sleep. There are thousands of meditation methods. Try this simple method to get started.
- Pick a time. The morning is an ideal time to meditate and to practice yoga asana. But you can meditate anytime.
- Pick a place. Make it quiet, secluded and free of distraction. It can be anywhere!
- Sit upright, relaxed, but alert and close your eyes.
- Silently begin to pay attention to your inhales and exhales. If any stray thoughts enter your mind, return to your breath.
- Start slow-try 5 minutes and gradually increase to 20-30 minutes. You can use your cell phone alarm clock as a timer. (Make sure the alarm sound is something soothing!)
If you want to delve deeper into meditation, check out local yoga studios and meditation centers. Almost every yoga class will provide time for meditation and centering either at the beginning or end of class. YogaNine in Smithville, NJ hosts a weekly Mindful Meditation class Monday evenings. In Collingswood, NJ, Yogawood has a meditation class each Sunday evening. Further north in Cinnaminson, the Meditation Center, others daily meditations and special workshops.