From our recent blog ‘yoga so much more than the pose” we talked about Yoga’s origins and noted the first discovery of ‘yoga’ came about around 4000-2000bc during the ‘Pre Vedic Period’. Evidence was found of a person seated in a meditative posture.
Yoga as we know is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means to yoke or to bind. Some also say ‘union’. Its essence consists of a multitude of practices that unite the mind, body and spirit. And with spirit, we are referring to one’s true self.
From looking through our ancient texts we understand the core of their teachings is about practices which reveal the ‘true self’ and the main practice referred to is meditation.
Meditation or Dhyana as it’s known in Sanskrit is derived from the Sanskrit word Dhi which translates as ‘intellect or ‘thinking’.
If we refer to Pantanjali’s Eight Fold Path Dhyana is the seventh step towards Samadhi or liberation. Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path consists of the following;
Yamas – Niyamas – Asana – Pranayama – Pratyahara – Dharana – Dhyana – Samadhi (liberation within oneself)
To understand why meditation plays such an important role we need to reference Chapter 3 of the Sutras;
In Chapter 3 of the Yoga Sutras Of Pantanjali, verse 1 says ‘Contemplation is confining of thought to one point’ verse 2 goes onto say ‘Meditation depends on this foundation for directing thoughts into a continuous flow of awareness’. Verse 3 says, ‘Being Absorbed in Spirit is that consciousness, whose object is void of form or goal and only the essence of the object remains shining forth’. He then highlights in verse 4 ‘Samyama occurs when these three processes flow together harmoniously integrating the full spectrum of the mind’s potential.
Without Meditation, there is no Yoga. The misunderstanding derives from the misconception when we talk about Yoga we are only referencing the physical part or Asana as its traditionally known.
According to Hari Kaur Khalsa a student of Yogi Bhajan, she references Meditation as being the foundation of all spiritual practises and traditions. What was once a subject known only in our ancient text is now the core subject of some great scientific studies.
In today’s world, we are now truly understanding the power of the practice that our sages have known all along.
The recent rising of Mindfulness (a form of meditation) has proven how beneficial a consistent practice can be. We now know that a consistent meditation practice can actually change the brain. Studies have highlighted larger grey matter (our thinking, decision making part of our brain) in meditators versus non-meditators.
We know people who meditate regularly tend to be happier and healthier. Consistently drawing your awareness inwards to the present moment relieves the desire to think in the past or worry about the future as deep in your consciousness everything is well in that moment.
Yoga and Meditation are best friends, a yoga class, in general, will always hold a space for a meditative practice, it may not necessarily be obvious, but even in Shavasana at the end of the class, there is a moment where you can be present with your mind, body and breath.
This is Yoga a complete holistic practise that unites mind with body detaching the ego to reveal one’s true self.
Lisa is the founder of OmShanti Yoga Living and is a Yoga Medicine Therapeutic Specialist and a registered Yoga Alliance Trainer pro. Lisa launched Jersey’s first YA Accredited 200hr Course in 2021 which is due to start in October 2021. She runs her own private studio where she sees clients on a 1-1 basis.