With all the stressors in our lives, a life of unclenched jaws and relaxed shoulders may feel out of reach, but humans have been using yoga and meditation for centuries as tools towards relaxation and inner peace. Your social media timelines might be filled with words and pictures urging you to meditate, stretch, and relax. Sounds great, but with huge amounts of information being thrown at you, it can be hard to know how to get going. Why not start at the beginning?…
What is yoga?
Yoga began as a spiritual practice involving meditation and breathing meant to align the body and soul. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and has grown to become a more physical practice, enhancing a person’s ability to stretch, balance, and breathe. The primary focus of traditional yoga is to focus one’s mind and connect to one’s body. As yoga has grown and evolved it has become widespread and highly popular among fitness lovers as well as those who practice meditation.
Can I do yoga at home?
There are many ways to practice yoga such as classes, online videos, and personal flows. Doing yoga at home can be a great way to unwind and relax at the end of the day or center yourself before work. There are many popular online yoga videos such as Yoga With Adriene, Yogi Approved, and Gaia. If you choose to do yoga at home consider creating a peaceful space for yourself by lighting candles, playing relaxing music, or diffusing essential oils. You may even consider taking some CBD before your practice to aid with your relaxation.
What should I bring to my first yoga class?
If you choose to go out and complete a yoga class in person, it’s important to arrive prepared. Yoga classes can seem intimidating but most practices only require a few basic tools to get started. The most important is a yoga mat. A mat helps protect your knees and elbows from the hard ground and creates a designated space for your yoga flow. Some classes also utilize blocks, pillows or blankets, and weights. Most yoga studios provide those for you if they’re required for a class. Make sure to identify what kind of yoga you’ll be doing so you can come prepared with any special equipment as needed.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the practice of engaging in mental exercises, such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra, for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. Meditation is known to help lessen anxiety and stress and is the most helpful when done regularly.
Where do I start?
There is a common misconception that meditation is the practice of clearing your mind completely. This is untrue. Real meditation is the practice of working over and over again to focus your attention on breathing or mantra. When starting meditation, start with just 30 seconds to a minute. There are several wellness apps with meditation components that can help guide you.
As you meditate, your mind will wander but that’s perfectly normal. Meditation is all about bringing your attention back to your breathing or your mantra and recentering.
What is a Mantra?
Mantras are traditionally a repeated word or sound used to aid meditation but are also used in daily life as comforting reminders and grounding techniques. In Sanskrit Mantra literally means man (‘to think”)-tra (“tool.”) Simply, it is a tool of the mind. A mantra can be any word or phrase that is repeated, some popular mantras include “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”, “feelings aren’t facts” and “exhale stress, inhale love.” These mantras are often used as reminders to oneself throughout the day or in times of high stress. More traditional meditation mantra is “Om” meaning “it is” or “to become” you may hear this at the beginning or end of a yoga class or during the meditation practice.
Choosing a mantra is all about finding a phrase or sound that works for you and makes you feel grounded. It can feel silly at first but sometimes saying your mantra out loud makes it easier to focus and ground yourself. Try a few out and find out what works for you!
Yoga and meditation are practices meant to align the body with the soul and place an emphasis on personal peace. Neither is about creating perfect poses or clearing your mind completely. Remember that part of the meditation practice is being gentle with yourself and creating space to grow into your practice.