Sitting, yoga, and meditation

Alyson sitting in baddho konasana

Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

The local meditation group recently wrote a very interesting blog post entitled ‘Sitting with confidence‘. It’s a very useful overview of the importance of sitting comfortably when meditating, and how to find the most appropriate position for yourself.

Now, sitting and being comfortable when meditating is important within the yoga world because traditionally that was the final stage sought through a yoga practice. This can be seen in Patanjali’s ‘eight limbs’ of yoga in his Yoga Sutras text where asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing practices) are the 3rd and 4th limbs, whilst concentration and meditation are the 6th and 7th limbs. (The ultimate aim or 8th limb, samadhi, is also a form of meditation and is the merging with ultimate consciousness.)

In the West we tend to think only of yoga as the physical postures, whereas these were traditionally undertaken in order to remove tension and physical aches from the body and to prepare it for sitting (for a long time) in meditation. Many of the very early texts, and even the Hatha Yoga Pradipika from the 15th century, contain mainly only seated physical asana, not the fancy show-off poses much loved on the Internet. These prepared the hips in particular for ease of sitting.

So, if you’re struggling with sitting comfortably for meditation, try practising some physical yoga postures (maybe half lotus); and if you are used to doing physical yoga, try sitting still and focusing, concentrating, meditating, for a minute or five. Concentrating on your breath is a good place to start.

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