There are many ways to meditate. Whether you’re moving in a vinyasa class, sitting in a quiet room, playing a sport or a musical instrument, what matters is that:
The activity provides you with the environment for practicing the skill of being “present, in the moment, and undistracted”. In short, you are conscious of your thoughts and actions. You are focused on YOU.
Meditation is simply a technique that provides you with the optimum conditions for practicing the skill of mindfulness.Heaspace
Although there are various ways to reach this state of mindfulness, one can argue that what differentiates yoga as a mind-body exercise is the deliberate reminder to breathe, focus, listen, and slow down. The postures also open up the body, so physically, you feel at ease and light. This is one of the reasons why during savasana, we are told to let go, to let the mind wander, without judgement. After intense focus and body awareness, the mind can now reach a state of bliss because the body is relaxed.
Is it possible for one to do yoga postures without the benefits of meditation?
Yes. When you stop paying attention to your breath, stop listening to your body, letting the mind wander and not consciously honing it back to the present. You’re not only missing out on the meditative aspect of yoga, but you risk injuring yourself in the process.
The great thing about a yoga practice is that you’re always giving yourself the chance to be present. Each breath you take during a yoga class is an opportunity to quiet the mind and focus. You’re meant to concentrate because you’re always challenging yourself to go deeper, but to always be aware between opening your body and causing harm.
Research shows that mind-body activities can reverse stress-related changes in genes linked to poor health and depression. Finding the meditation in our yoga practice means we’re moving past grabbing the toes as the main goal, but you’re entering a state of deep concentration where you listen, feel, and find joy.
Source: Frontiers in Immunology
Can you incorporate meditation in other forms of movement?
Absolutely. For most of us, to achieve this state, we find a balance between being challenged while at the same time finding calm in the process. Is there an activity that lets you lose track of time because you are so focused? Where you approach obstacles that might come your way with acceptance and joy? An activity that you find intrinsically rewarding? A time when you feel in “flow”? An activity that puts you in a state of happiness?
For the longest time, society has had the idea of meditation as sitting alone in a secluded place with the eyes closed. An activity inaccessible to everyday people, a skill that takes a lifetime to learn. We have moved past that.
Meditation is simply a technique that provides you with the optimum conditions for practicing the skill of mindfulness.
Mindfulness means to be present, in the moment, undistracted. It implies resting the mind in its natural state of awareness, which is free of any bias or judgement.Headspace
[Meditation is]…the ability to quiet the mind in order to let go of distracting thoughts and focus attention on the immediate moment.”Jessica Matthews | Program Director Nazarene University