What I really want to get across is that home practice can be anything you want it to be and you have the information in your body already on how you want to move it. The practice is about finding or fostering that connection within you. So weather you follow what I have said, made it up or adapted it, that’s fantastic!
Why do we end practice, if we choose, in meditation perhaps laying in Savasana (laying down on the back)? Spending the time to work on mindfulness in the mind-body connection network during a physical yoga practice is considered the hard work that prepares you for meditation. You can think of it as the fruit of your labour if you like. Does that mean it’s enjoyable every time or comes easily? Absolutely not. For some, Savasana can be the hardest Asana. Laying still for 5-10 minutes and focusing the mind is not an easy task! That’s right you are doing work when meditating, there is a common misconception that mediation is trying to think of nothing... this doesn’t have to be the case!
The benefits of meditation include and not limited too:
😊Reduce Stress, anxiety and feelings of burnout
🥳Lowers blood pressure
😌Creates self awareness, compassion and gratitude
Okay so how do we meditate? And when? You don’t have to wait till the end of a physical yoga practice to meditate, you can do this whenever, or even consider your physical practice a form of meditation because it can be. A great tool here is YouTube. There are so many led meditations to try out! I have 2 Yoga Nidras on my Channel. If you want to go a different route of sitting in silence for a couple minutes or longer and leading yourself here are some simple steps to try out, either individually or all together:
1. Preparation: just like our warm up before we move the body, the mind can also require a bit of warming up to ask it to internalise. This can be done through the senses. This is referred to as sense withdrawal or Pratyahara in Sanskrit (1 limb from Patanjali, Series 3/5). Often I use sounds, using your attention to focus for a few moments on the sounds around you. You can try this now if you like, try and hear all the sounds around you without identifying them, as raw unfiltered noise. Allow your attention to move from sound to sound. If you like you can also focus on the sound of breathing, or even feeling the weight of the body with where it connects to the ground.
2. Body Scan: This is another way to relax the body. It is rotation of awareness of the body. When starting out, and to easily remember you can work up the back line of the body where the body touches the floor moving from left to right. You can place awareness by either visualising, sensing, mentally saying it perhaps, or feeling each body part and moving from part to part. There is no wrong way to do this. If a part of the body is hard to visualise, simply move on and don’t worry about it.
3. Breath Awareness: the key here is to observe the breath. This means allowing it to be without changing it. If it is shallow and sparatic, allow it and stay with it. You can watch it for a while or maybe until you feel your mind wander away, from when it does remind your self to go back to the breath. Maybe you want to focus on your body as you breath, the parts that expand and contract. The key here is to allow it to be natural breath and to keep the focus.
4. Observing the mind: many different disciplines of meditation look at this stage in different ways. Some try to force away thoughts, concentrate on a single object, some contemplate compassion, others just ask you to observe your thoughts. I come from the latter. This can be referred to as mindfulness meditation, where the practitioner notices thoughts or emotions, trying not to get involved in them. Letting them come and go, as if, standing on the side of the road watching traffic drive by.
If meditation is something that interests you, try a couple of minutes and work up to longer ones. Or even try doing some led ones as a starting point.