What is more valuable to you – a trained body or a trained mind? Most people would think about this for a second and decide that physical appearance, through training the body, is more important to them. In Hatha Yoga, we can easily see the number of students who pursue physical mastery through asana practice.
Not everyone feels asana is the “Holy Grail” of Yoga, but physical prowess is still an attraction. However, for one to pursue physical mastery over mental mastery, one must feel that his or her mental health is going along just fine. If this were so, why are so many people experiencing chronic stress, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, and a variety of mental disorders?
Meditation may not be the solution to all the mental ailments humankind experiences, but it sure can help. Many Western medical doctors recommend meditation as an adjunct therapy. Many counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists, also recommend Yoga to stabilize the mind.
The most common reason why Yoga students want to learn meditation is to relax the mind when needed. To relieve the mind and body of negative nervous energy is the result of a complete Hatha Yoga practice. In other words: Physical exercises (asanas), alone, will not produce optimum results for holistic health.
Asanas will help purge negative energy from the body and mind, up to a limited point. This is the reason why Maharishi Patanjali mentions eight limbs in the Yoga Sutras. He mentions Yoga as a way of life and higher levels of concentrated meditation. He does mention asana, but it is just one of the eight limbs.
The last four of the eight limbs – Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, are concerned with meditation and preparation for it. Therefore, the value and benefits of daily practice, go much further than the skin’s surface.
What are the benefits of meditation? Meditation is the most natural of today’s methods to bring the mind under control. Prescribed drugs, alcohol, and illegal drugs are often used or abused, with the goal of relaxing the mind. Based on the cost of chemical addictions, people will pay a high price, in many ways, to relax their minds. Meditation does not have negative side effects.
In comparison to many forms of therapy, meditation is extremely cost effective. An intermediate practitioner will have no difficulty practicing alone. A few asanas and pranayama (Yogic breathing) techniques will aid to relax the body before a meditation sessions. The end result is a focused and relaxed mind, which is prepared for daily tasks.
© Copyright 2009 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, has written many books on the subject of Yoga. He is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. http://www.aurawellnesscenter.com He has been a certified Master Yoga Teacher since 1995. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/member-offer.html