Yoga & Meditation Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Yoga?
Yoga means union but it also means a healthy body, balance mind and joyful and harmonious existence. Yoga is not what you can do but the quality with which you do something. It's not about being able to bend over and touch your toes or putting your leg behind your head, nor is it about standing on your head. Yoga is about being able to reach your toes so you can take care of your feet and everything in between. Yoga is about standing firmly on your own two feet (or one foot) and staying rooted in your intentions. Yoga is about developing the mental and physical strength so that you can remain grounded and balanced through the turbulence of life. Yoga is about finding freedom in your body and living a focused and inspired life.
2. What is the difference between meditation and yoga?
To many the word yoga means a series of physical exercises stretching and tying our bodies into impossible knots. But these physical postures are only one aspect of yoga, known as "asanas". The physical postures of yoga are practiced for their health benefits, and because they help to prepare the body for meditation. Yoga is both a philosophy of life and a system of spiritual practice. The word "yoga" actually means union between the individual self and Infinite Consciousness. Meditation is the most important practice in the yoga system and is the means by which this merger or union is achieved. So yoga is a system or science that enables an individual to develop physically, mentally and spiritually, and meditation is the practice that makes the mental and spiritual development possible.
3. What are the benefits of meditation?
Common benefits of meditation are a sense of inner peace, tranquility, calm, patience, happiness, pure joy, deeper self-knowledge and understand, emotional balance, and an enhanced ability to deal and manage stress. Meditation works internally to wipe away all the gunk and grime that has been collecting in our minds over the course of our lives, and as our understanding and awareness of the mind deepens, we can begin to feel a greater appreciation, love, and compassion for life. With prolonged, consistent, and dedicated practice, it is common for people to experience a newfound connection to themselves, all living things, and the universe.
4. What are the different types of meditation?
There are six fundamental forms of meditation, they are: mindfulness meditation, guided visualizations – guided meditation, breathing exercises, mantras, music enhanced meditation, and movement based meditation.
Many different traditions utilize one or several of these forms into their practice. Yoga, Eastern and Western religions, shamanic practices, energy cultivation models, and self-help techniques are but a few of the traditions.
There are literally thousands if not millions of different ways and systems, but the six fundamental forms are the foundation of all these systems. For specific information and differences between these fundamental forms, please visit the techniques page under the topics tab above.
5. Do I need to sit with my legs cross and eyes closed? What is the correct posture for meditation?
In Eastern traditions, meditation is usually done in the lotus or half-lotus posture where a person’s legs are crossed while sitting on a cushion close to the floor. However, this is not realistic for everyone, and many Westerners feel uncomfortable sitting like this for extended periods of time. Solution, sit in a chair, or anywhere else where you can stay comfortable! The main point is to keep your back straight, neck straight, chin slightly down, feet on the ground, and arms comfortably positioned on knees or thighs. This will allow you to breath comfortably and inhale fully. Some people prefer to meditate lying down but this position is not recommended for beginners because of the high likely hood of falling asleep. A proper position should also encourage mental alertness and physical relaxation.
6. How do I quiet the mind, there are so many thoughts?
It is impossible to think your thoughts away because even the thought of no-thoughts is still a thought. To have no thoughts is NOT the point of meditation. Instead, learn to watch your thoughts without becoming involved or entangled in them. Every time you see a thought, watch it float by and remain detached from it. If you notice yourself thinking about something, bring yourself back to that place of detachment. With practice, perseverance, and a bit of patience you will get better at remaining in this detached place. Once you are able to stay there, you will experience fewer thoughts and naturally reach a state where no new thoughts come in. Do not become frustrated with yourself, be patient and enjoy the experience of watching.
7. I'm not flexible – can I do yoga?
Absolutely! In fact, you are the perfect candidate for yoga. Give it a try and over time you will notice that yoga helps you to become more flexible.
Everybody is different, so never feel the need to practice poses exactly like the teacher: she is only there as a guide (and has been practicing yoga for over 10 years). Listen to your body, don't force yourself and stay within your limits. Also, like any other exercise program, please consult your doctor before beginning to practice yoga.
8. What is spiritual meditation?
In spiritual meditation our mind is directed towards a spiritual idea. The simplest way to conceive of this is to think of infinite love, peace and happiness, or an entity embodying that. We may call it God, but the name is not important. What is important is to remember that this infinite love is within us and surrounding us.
If we pause to consider, it becomes apparent that every experience we have ever had took place within our minds. If we want lasting happiness or love, what better place to look than at the source of these feelings?
Spiritual meditation is concentration on a spiritual idea, an idea associated with Infinite Consciousness, an idea that is greater than our selves. As we contemplate this vast and beautiful idea, our mind is transformed into pure consciousness that has no boundary.
So spiritual meditation is the effort to merge our sense of "I" into Infinite Consciousness.
9. What is the best time of day to meditate?
While meditation is beneficial at any time, most people who meditate agree that early morning is the best time to meditate. Part of the reason is that it is said that in early morning the hustle-and-bustle of the world has not yet begun and so it is easier to establish a meditative atmosphere. Having an early morning meditation also lets us carry some of the energy and peace of the meditation into our daily activities.
Many people also meditate either before dinner or later in the evening. Others also meditate at noon. A short meditation at these times allows one to throw off some of the accumulated stress of the work-day and become rejuvenated for further activity. An important consideration is when your schedule will allow you to meditate. Having a time of the day set aside for meditation helps in maintaining regularity.
10. What if I fall asleep during the meditation?
If you fall asleep during a Guided Meditation your subconscious mind is still aware. It is always alert and listening for what is happening around you, and will automatically receive the information. If the meditation is encouraging you to be happier and healthier, your subconscious mind will start to generate the health and healing messages that were in the meditation to reduce your everyday stress, even though you are not conscious of it.
Above we listed some frequently asked questions on Yoga & Meditation, if you did not find an answer to your question, please use our ask a doctor feature and one of our expert doctors in Yoga & Meditation will answer your question.