Every new blog has to start by explaining its existence, right? Mostly kidding. But, in my experience, the first post is the hardest. So, I thought I’d start by talking a little about what I hope to explore here.
I am a yoga teacher and a pretty dedicated meditator. I’ve been practicing yoga for about 15 years, and now specialize in teaching Therapeutic Hatha Yoga, as well as Yin Yoga. Many of my students have injuries or ailments that yoga helps them address, from this gentle, healing approach to the physical practice. I added Vipassana (Insight) Meditation to my practice about seven years ago, which gets us to part of the reason for this blog.
I started meditating because I recognized that there’s a whole body of teachings and practices that would help me work with the mind more than my asana practice had so far. But, from there I began to feel that I had developed two separate practices – one of yoga asana, and one of meditation. Each was hugely beneficial on its own, but I began to wonder…why doesn’t this feel like it’s all part of ONE unified practice?
It’s not that I expect the same results from two different activities, but the continuum between them has felt a bit murky. I also recognize there are some real philosophical differences between the lineages that produced modern Hatha Yoga and the Buddhism from which my meditation practice developed. Nonetheless, both are part of my human quest for wholeness, so I want my yoga and my meditation to “talk” to each other as much as possible! I’m sure the separation is really something that exists more IN my mind that outside of it, but trying to bring my practices together is an attempt to resolve that avidya itself (avidya = misperception).
One last thought about the origin and motivation for typing my thoughts up on this blog. Everyone who’s been around yoga for a while has heard some version of this idea: “Yoga is not just about the physical postures, it is meant to prepare the yogi for meditation.” And yet, I know for a fact that many yoga students, despite being rather adept at poses, are quite intimidated by the idea of sitting still in meditation! It would be extremely hard to find a mainstream Hatha Yoga class that say, ended with 20 minutes of seated meditation. My main question is: “What’s up with that???”
I may not be the only one with a mental dividing line between asana and meditation! Could we be practicing and teaching in ways that would encourage more crossover between the two?
Let me know if you have thought about this topic, too…I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. If it seems like I’m just picking on yogis who don’t meditate, I also think there are plenty of meditators who need to locate their actual bodies through some sort of physical practice like yoga! 🙂