about teaching meditationBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

What should Yoga instructors know about teaching meditation and creating time for it? The definition of Yoga as the stilling or cessation of the thought waves of the mind is far different than the popular, secular view of Yoga that is presented to us in a wide variety of marketing campaigns for products as diverse as vitamins, cashew milk and iPads. According to the ancient Indian scriptures, regularly practicing a sequence of physical postures and breathing exercises is intended to create a firm and comfortable “seat” for dropping into an internal state of expansive consciousness and bliss.

When a Yoga practitioner connects with this pure unbounded awareness, the mental chatter in the mind stops and one’s consciousness is able to perceive the essential divine reality that flows through all of creation. Dropping into a state of pure, unbounded awareness is also very rejuvenating and replenishing for both the body and mind. If you are a Yoga teacher, briefly introducing your students to the history and depth of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, will open the door for your students to further explore the systematic practice of asanas and breathing exercises that leads to a state of calm equipoise, both on and off the mat.

Although many of us would like to live in a state of expansive consciousness and bliss, simply calming down the incessant mental chatter that fills most of our minds, most of the time, will bring profound relief to many of us! This mental relief is not dependent on whether or not we can perform a handstand in the middle of the room or hold Crow Pose for a full minute. By introducing your Yoga students to the profound practice of meditation at the end of a class, you will enable them to experience a deep, restorative state of peace and expanded consciousness, before reentering their daily lives off the mat.

One of the main challenges to introducing and practicing meditation in a Yoga class is often the perceived lack of time. If you study Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, you will know that the ultimate goal of all of the physical postures and breathing exercises is to prepare the body and mind for meditation. A simple way to have enough time for meditation during a class is to create a sequence of asanas and pranayama exercises that is completed ten to fifteen minutes before the scheduled end of your class. Even a brief period of ten minutes of meditation will give your students a taste of the profound stillness that is available to them, when their minds settle and their bodies are comfortably at rest.

A very easy and seamless way to gently guide your Yoga students into a period of meditation at the end of class is to lead them out of Shavasana and immediately into a meditation posture in Easy Seat on their mats. The closing postures of a Yoga class are traditionally calming and restorative, so gliding gently into meditation after practicing some seated forward folds, inversions and Shavasana is quite natural. In addition, most of your students will have put on some extra layers of clothing before resting in Shavasana, which will help to keep them warm and comfortable as they sit in meditation.

Practicing a brief period of meditation at the end of a Yoga class will also minimize the amount of transitional time needed to prepare for meditation, because most of the preparation of putting on socks and having a folded blanket to sit on will already be in place. You may also wish to read a short, uplifting passage that helps the minds of your students to settle into an expansive, thought-free internal space, as you guide them into meditation. Your choice of what kind of passage, poem or haiku to read is one of the most creative aspects of teaching Yoga.

The ancient sages of India did not just practice Yoga for physical health and well-being, although these benefits are clearly very valuable. They practiced the ancient method of knowing the divine through the systematic practice of Raja Yoga, as outlined so succinctly by Patanjali, in order to preparing their bodies and minds for the sacred practice of meditation. By including a period of meditation into your class, you will be inviting your students to experience the essential goal of all Yoga practice: to drop into the expansive, internal space of unbounded freedom and joy.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2016 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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