Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

Yoga and Meditation

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Yoga and meditation

This isn't me :)
This isn’t me :)
I have to confess that I’m no yogi! I did Iyengar-style Yoga fairly regularly for several years a long time ago, and I still do the occasional class to stop myself from getting too stiff. I would like to do it more regularly, but … well you know how it is. Keeping up a regular meditation practice and running an online meditation center take up a lot of time. So I’m not setting myself up as some sort of an expert.

What I do want to do is first say just a few words about the benefits I’ve experienced from yoga in relation to meditation, and then introduce some yoga asanas (postures) taught by Dharmapriya, who is a meditator and yoga teacher from Canada who now lives in Germany.

I can see four ways in which yoga helped me in my meditation practice and life.

1. Flexibility

Meditating involves sitting still for a period of time — maybe 10 minutes, or maybe 100 minutes. The increased flexibility that yoga brings helps the body to remain comfortable during this physical inactivity.

2. Energy

I remember very well being on retreat, and noticing that I had more energy available to me in my meditation practice after doing yoga. Maybe it’s something as simple as endorphin release, or maybe it’s something more mysterious — I don’t know and don’t really need to know. What I found in my experience was that in the 4.30 PM meditation, in which normally I would be struggling to keep my body upright and in which my brain would tend to “go on standby” I was suddenly wide awake if I did yoga just beforehand.

More than that, I noticed that I felt full of life, as if I was plugged into the mains electricity. Those late afternoon meditations were certainly more productive than they used to be.

3. Awareness

Awareness of the body is said to be the first “foundation” of mindfulness. Mindfulness can’t exist in the abstract — we have to have something to be mindful of. And it’s hard to be aware of what the more subtle elements of our experience are doing if we aren’t aware of what relatively substantial parts of our experience (like the body) are doing. Yoga helps us to be more aware of the body, which helps with the overall process of developing mindfulness. That brings me onto the fourth benefit that I noticed.

4. Relaxation and Calmness

Yoga helps to promote a deeper awareness of the body and of its muscles and joints. This has a grounding effect, helping to calm the mind, which in turn slows down our emotions so that we feel more relaxed. At the end of a session of yoga, I’d notice a definite emotional buoyancy accompanied by mental clarity and calmness.

All this makes me think I should get to yoga classes more often! And I want to encourage you to do the same, so I asked my friend and colleague Dharmapriya if he’d contribute some basic instruction in yoga. You’ll find his advice on the following pages, and you might be interested also in his Body Wisdom CD, which leads you through the asanas that are illustrated here.

Bodhipaksa

Comments

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Comment from Rose
Time: August 22, 2007, 5:16 am

I enjoyed reading about Yoga and wish I could attend a class. I live in Dallas , Texas and need some motivational friends. I’m even more interested in the Chanting of Num Yo. I am reading more about it and how we draw the energy from our surrounding. I wish I had practice this a long time ago.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 22, 2007, 6:49 am

Hi Rose,

I think the mantra you’re talking about is Nam myoho renge kyo — a Japanese chant that comes from the White Lotus Sutra. It’s chanted in various forms of Nichiren Buddhism, and you can read more about it here.

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Comment from Neil
Time: August 30, 2007, 6:03 pm

Refreshing. You are full of wisdom yet strangely cool.

write some more.

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Comment from Michael
Time: November 27, 2007, 11:48 pm

I have recently began to practice Yoga thanks to the teachings of Rodney Yee. Maybe you have heard of this man? Unfortunately he lives on the other side of the country and I am forced to use DVD’s as a medium for my education in Yoga. Granted, it is not one-on-one as any sort of Yoga program probably should be, but based on my martial arts background, I felt that the knowledge of the limits as well as the current awareness of my body that I possess would serve me well when I do not have time or money to see an instructor personally.

Yoga is amazing, and if you are in the same position as me and you lack the resources, be it time or money, to take Yoga classes, look for Yoga DVD’s with Rodney Yee, he is a true Yogi.

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Comment from ALIYU olatokunbo BASHIR
Time: November 28, 2007, 4:50 am

I had the opportunity of visiting a lot sites concerning yoga.With little practice i have gained insight on the benefits of being a yogist.In the part the that i belong to the practice of yoga is common amongst the elite .As an African and a Nigerian,i would be glad to know interested groups world wide.

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Comment from ALIYU olatokunbo BASHIR
Time: November 28, 2007, 4:53 am

The practice of yoga is world wide,but the spread in Africa and in Nigeria is poor.

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Comment from pro Ecstacy
Time: December 5, 2007, 8:40 am

define “yoga” and then ‘yoga and meditation’

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 5, 2007, 2:27 pm

Hi Pro-Ecstacy,

I’m not sure who you’re addressing the question to, but I’ll chip in my own thoughts, for what they’re worth.

I wouldn’t attempt to draw any kind of firm line between yoga and meditation, and in fact the word yoga can be used to mean meditation. But in this context you can think of yoga as being a form of meditative physical exercise, and meditation as being more mental/emotional in focus. Of course yoga involves the mind and meditation involves the body, but when I’m doing asanas I have a sense that I’m doing something significantly different from when I’m doing anapanasati or metta bhavana, for example. I find yoga more physical and involving a less subtle awareness of the mind. Maybe it’s not like that for everyone, though!

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Paul Tavares (NiPau)
Time: October 14, 2008, 9:58 am

Yoga is fantastic, it has definately helped me to maintain good health and have plenty of energy.

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Comment from kirsty
Time: November 18, 2008, 9:00 am

I kind of think of yoga as a moving meditation. You are concentrating on your breath as you practice and this brings focus and calm. For me the two go together hand in hand. I believe that the original idea of yoga was to make the body ready to meditate and to sit without dis-ease.

Namstate to all.

Kirsty – Teacher of Yoga to Adults and Children

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Comment from Jennifer Medeiros
Time: January 25, 2009, 5:47 pm

I’ve lived Yoga since I was 7 years old. I was introduced to it in school. Yoga is much more than asana practise, it is a
cleansing way of life, non harming and pure. I am constantly learning while being a teacher of it and enjoy your CD and
this site.

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Comment from Boris
Time: May 7, 2009, 4:10 pm

Does anybody know if there is any information about combining Tai Chi Chuan and Buddhist meditation? I am a Tai Chi student but like to practice the meditations described on this site as well. As far as I know Tai Chi has it’s origins in the Tao. I know the Tao has a whole set of meditations but I am particularly interested in the ones described here. For example I’d like to know if it would be harmful to combine the two. Any help is very much appreiciated. Thanks.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 7, 2009, 7:48 pm

I don’t know of any information published on this, but I know plenty of people who practice meditation and Tai Chi, and I’ve even led the meditation on a Tai Chi and Meditation retreat. Tai Chi may have emerged from Taoism, but it’s very compatible with Buddhist meditation practice. Enjoy!

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Comment from Boris
Time: May 9, 2009, 10:33 am

Thanks for your quick reply. Good to hear there are more people out there doing the same.
I really like this site by the way. Keep up the good work!

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Comment from karma
Time: June 17, 2009, 11:29 pm

Buddhist meditation is focused on enlightenment but to practice it you should really find a tibetan buddhist masters and they will show you how meditation works these days there are so many kind of meditation teacher but you have to choose real guru. The guru who will show you real ancient meditation .that means way to enlightenment . there are so many people who got enlightenment like milaripa, buddha him self and so on. If you have time i would suggest you to go India and Nepal(Kathmandu) you will find real living tibetan masters of meditation who spend more then 20 years in cave meditating most of these great lamas are getting very old so don’t waste you time meet them and you will know what real yoga and meditation means and i am sure you will full fill what you are looking for. be kind to all living being and take care .

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 18, 2009, 9:51 am

Hi Karma,

There are many forms of Buddhism besides Tibetan Buddhism and many fine teachers in the West. It would be unfortunate to propagate the myth that people have to go to Asia to get meditation instruction.

With metta,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Pankaj Kumar
Time: January 16, 2010, 6:47 am

hi karma,

I don’t agree fully with you. I am from India. Although Tibetan teachers are great but i have also found equally great teachers even in West. These are just different forms of Buddhism (i.e. Tibetan, Western etc.) So we should not fall in the comparison of teachers as meditation depends purely upon the personnel commitment and practice. Even Buddha attained enlightenment through his own practice and dedication.
May you be well and happy !!!!!

Thanks
Pankaj

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Comment from Colleen
Time: July 10, 2010, 6:43 pm

If I could I would practice yoga every day! But I do know how it is unfortunately…I totally agree with what you say about feeling full of life. You feel so active, so happy to be alive. And body awareness is another important one for me. I notice more subtle things about what’s going on in my body, how it feels, and what it’s telling me. Thanks for sharing!

Colleen

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Comment from gail
Time: July 24, 2010, 5:36 pm

I appreciate your comments about Yoga. Yoga is moving meditation to me as well. I see my mind so clearly, commenting, judging, etc. And then I let go of that. Because that mind is unstable and when it is unstable my body is also.

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Comment from …yoga…
Time: October 2, 2010, 12:24 pm

…yoga helps me before and also after my meditation practice…i don’t do a lot just around 10 mins each side of med…it helps to set up a …well for want of a better word…’ritual’ and seems to feed into the process very well …especially at the end as i breathe and thank providence for the practice and wish others well…a sort of closure to the meditation which is an excellent way of coming back to the world outside of my meditation chair…regards…mrsnupcup…

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Comment from Stewart Wiseman
Time: January 30, 2011, 11:10 am

I have been doing yoga for about eight years or so but despite this commitment I still end up rolling about the floor with no finesse, lol, and I am no more flexible now than I was before! Well, maybe a little. However, my mind is much calmer. I think the reason for this could be because we are instructed to focus on the breath – paying attention to, and staying with, the breath is far more important than being able to touch your toes, for example It is the breath that connects us with the rest of the world. Yoga is breath! PS yoga also gives me an amazing appetite. hahaha

Om shanti

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: January 30, 2011, 11:15 am

Are you Stewart-from-Edinburgh Stewart?

I haven’t stuck with yoga, but when I did it regularly for several years in a row I definitely got much more flexible. And now that I’ve stopped I’m getting very stiff!

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Comment from Stewart Wiseman
Time: January 30, 2011, 12:55 pm

All that meditation must make for a good memory. Yeah I kinda drifted away from just sitting but have been constant with the yoga. Maybe I will take a wee trip back to the Centre in the Spring. Hope you are well.

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Comment from Peter Jones
Time: February 22, 2011, 1:16 am

I must say, that if, in this world you want to stay fit a & healthy the best way is doing yoga. It not only helps in physical health but brings peace to the mind too.

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Comment from Larry Li
Time: January 27, 2012, 9:44 pm

Love the article, thank you for your great work!

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Comment from YogaMan
Time: July 1, 2012, 4:56 pm

I have done yoga for years, but it wasn’t until I included meditation did I find inner peace and happiness. My body is healthier and I also have a lot more energy. Namaste!

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Comment from Pieter Roux
Time: January 7, 2013, 1:18 pm

i live in Africa and love yoga and meditation.

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Comment from Keely
Time: August 28, 2013, 9:43 am

I live in Birmingham, Alabama, which has one of the best hospitals in the world , period, hands down. People come from literially all over to be healed, both physically, and spiritually at UAB, and believe me, those doctors and nurses do some extraordinary things there. Five years ago, I was a very sick 18 year old kid, with a congenital heart defect. A very large 30 milimeter hole in the right atrium of my heart, that needed to be repaired as soon as I graduated from high school. On the night of my senior prom, everybody, including the prom king and queen, who were my closest friends, dedicated a song for me, Tim McGraw’s Live Like you’re Dying. I have always turned to meditation in times of darkness, and even more so, when I was sick. I hoped that I could do something like Yoga to go along with it when I got stronger.So the next summer, my mom and I, went to the Y, and signed up, and the first class we took was a yoga class.

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Comment from Elle
Time: September 7, 2013, 4:25 pm

What year, month and day was this page (Yoga and Meditation) set up?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 8, 2013, 10:10 am

Feb 15, 2007, at 7:15 PM. May I ask why you want to know?

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