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Not Your Gym’s Yoga: Strengthening the Mind through Meditation

Did you know that there is more to yoga than becoming a human pretzel? According to ancient Yogic texts, there are eight limbs of yoga that build on each other until oneness with the Self is achieved. This capital ‘S’ Self refers to everything – the birds, the trees, energy, wisdom, the UNIVERSE! The Self is within you and beyond you! And when we do a big OM at the end of class, ancient yogis would say the Self is perceptible in the subtle vibration of our collective chant.

Okay, back up. This is getting a little crunchy.

So yoga is about more than looking fabulous and wearing really comfortable “pants”? Yes.

Asana, or the physical practice of yoga, is actually meant to prepare the body for meditation. I know, I know – many of us spend our two minute savasanas mentally writing checklists for the remaining hours of our day while trying to look zen. But here’s a thought: our mental and emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being. Yoga is a holistic practice. Yoga is a way of life.

That two-minute savasana could look like this: just you and your breath, your mind like a calm lake on a temperate day, the sun just peeking out from behind the trees, your body billowing sweetly in the breeze of the breath. That two-minute savasana could become a ten-minute savasana and later a thirty-minute seated practice.

This may sound like a long way off. That’s normal; meditation is actually a more advanced expression of yoga than a headstand! It’s common for folks to discover yoga through fitness-based classes, and later they discover how deep yoga is and how much it has to offer.

Yoga is meant to strengthen the body and the mind. Just like the physical expression of yoga, meditation is a skill that requires time and practice. Life is full of ups and downs, traffic, last minute changes of plans, things breaking, unexpected costs, and meditation is the surfboard that allows us to ride the waves. A meditative mind is conscious, present, and grounded. Meditation creates new patterns in the brain so that if we find ourselves in the parking lot that is the Houston freeway system, our instincts are no longer to feel panicky, anxious, or frustrated; rather we may find ourselves going inside, breathing deeply, and finding an internal safe space.

While meditation can be a personal practice, some find it challenging to discipline themselves at home. Join us at Joy for Guided Meditation or enjoy one of our slow flow classes, followed by 15 minutes of group meditation. Click here to see our schedule.

Zen out!

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