It may not be exactly what we associate with Yoga. Most of us know Yoga as stretching and creating flexibility in our bodies. Either in the community hall or a fancy Yoga studio. Most of us feel great, and perhaps a little achy, in our body afterwards. But there is also another side effect: We feel calmer. Our minds are quieter, we sleep better, perhaps experience less anxiety or anger.
Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence.
These quotes come from a yogic text. A classic called Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. A text on Yoga, on how to still the mind and the steps to enlightenment. It doesn’t talk about advanced Yoga poses or downward facing dogs. This is about the Yoga of the mind and spirit. And once we have that calm mind we can move into Yoga poses - if necessary.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras one suggestion is to start with Dharana, or the concept of concentration.
That is binding of the mind to one place, object or idea.
When we concentrate on one thing all the other thoughts can be put aside for that moment.
A popular practice is to concentrate on the breath. We can add the sense of scent to create a ritual of transition into concentration and meditation.
Breath and scent meditation
Start by finding a comfortable seat. You want to sit up straight either on a chair with your feet flat on the floor or on a couple of cushions on the floor.
If you want to add an aromatic experience get out your Yogandha Ground Rollerball. Mindfully place the oil on your pulse points such as wrists, temples as well as the eyebrow centre.
We like using Yogandha Ground Rollerball to our meditation as it calms our minds, soothes us and brings us into the moment. But you do not need an essential oil blend for this practice.
Now close the eyes.
Observe your breath. Without trying or concentrating. You are simply the observer of the body breathing. No effort.
Feel the breath in the nostrils. Without judging or analysing notice: the texture of the inhale and exhale. The qualities: soft or hard, quick or slow, ease or constraint? It the temperature warm or cool? How do the qualities differ between the inhale and exhale?
Notice the aroma in the space. What layers of scent does your nose pick up? Again you observe the scents without judging or analysing them.
The purpose is to become aware of just the breath. Not the thoughts.
When the mind wanders you bring it back to the observation of the breath.
To close the meditation become aware of the body and your surroundings. Be completely grounded and present.
Enjoy this practice at home, outdoors and even on public transport. Any time you need the switch of that busy mind.
Yoga, as we know it in the modern world, is mostly associated with physical exercise, stretching, moving and thereby relaxing. It's now common to go yoga classes to find a bit of balance in our busy lives.
In Yogic philosophy, we know there is a connection between our breath and our emotions or mental state. If we breathe properly we can literally calm the mind. There are even certain breathing practises for specific purposes.