My first serious yoga teacher training was a residential one, where I lived in a yoga community for about a month focusing on nothing but yoga. It was fun for the most part 🙂 Every morning would begin with Shatkarma (yogic cleansing practices), pranayama and meditation. I wasn’t a big fan of meditation then. I would sit there, struggling to stay awake and give orders to my mind: “Wake up! Meditate! Stop thinking about breakfast! Stop thinking about the pain in the hip/back/neck! Meditate!” To be completely honest – it was torture. I was always relieved to hear the sound of the gong that announced the end of the practice.
My next teacher training program had a completely different approach. The main premise was that to get deeper into meditation, you need to prepare first. Sure, there are advanced human beings who can sink into a meditative state at the drop of a hat, but most of us need a little help. So we use asana practice to work out the kinks in the body not to be distracted by them (it is especially important to prepare the hips for sitting and the back for maintaining the upright posture). Asana practice also helps us become present with what we are doing. At the same time, we use some sort of breath awareness and pranayma to deepen the breath and focus the mind. Traditionally, asana is used to prepare for pranayama, and pranayama is used to prepare for meditation. That way by the time you get to meditation, your body feels stable and at ease, your breathing is deep and your mind is focused. This is a much better set up.
Below is a 20-minute asana/pranayama practice that will help you prepare your body and your mind for meditation (meditation itself is not included in the practice, you can choose the one that you prefer). I had fun with this practice and mostly used different adaptations of one posture – Prasarita Padottansana. It gives you an idea of how much you can do with one pose. Give it a try and let me know whether or not this practice helps you clear your head and feel more grounded.
Yoga practice to prepare your body and mind for meditation