Bringing Yoga to the Cushion and Meditation to the Mat

Whether we are a seasoned meditator or new beginner, we can be limited and distracted by stiffness, immobility, pain, core weakness or other recurring physical experiences. While these experiences can be opportunities for greater awareness, the sensations can also keep us preoccupied with the body, blocking our best intention to develop calm abiding and insight.

The renowned meditators of the past lived a very physical, body-based daily life. Squatting, sitting on the floor, walking everywhere, eating simple whole foods – all this and more helped create a robust body with flexible joints and powerful core strength. The Seven Yogas of Vairocana ( the classic Buddhist instructions for how to physically sit and breathe for meditation) are based on the structural characteristics of this more primal body type.

Our modern culture does not develop that kind of physicality. Structurally we are more sedentary, supported by chairs, more round shouldered with weaker low backs, and less mobile with stiffer knees and hips. As a result we often have limited comfort when we sit on the floor – or even in a chair.

However our core strength, spinal alignment, and pelvic mobility can be reclaimed and developed. When we learn to sit with relaxed alignment, open hips, pain free knees and a lifted core of mobile strength our attention is freed up to refocus on the deeper levels of awareness. We feel lighter and we drop easier into more contemplative attention with more focused, relaxed awareness.

Paradoxically, the roots of yoga are anchored in the experience of deep meditative states. To access the heart of yoga, core meditation is essential. Natural awareness, intuitive insight, deep listening, calm abiding and joyful attention are attributes of a stable, deep yoga practice. Combining the two traditions provides us with a balanced methodology for living a healthier, happier, more open hearted and wiser way of life.