Please comment and let me know which you tried, and what you thought of this Meditative Mandala exercise! If you have another favorite Mandala practice or coloring book, then please share! Always remember, be kind!
Good Morning Yogis! We are in the middle of a bonus Daily Meditation Challenge for October’s Emotional Wellness Month. Additionally, we are in the middle of a quick series of daily practices inspired by the first three Upper Limbs. We covered Pratyahara or withdrawal of the sense yesterday. As we have discussed, the upper limbs build upon all four of the lower limbs, and then sequentially upon each other. These practices are all meditation focused and therefore must truly be attained on your own. Today we will discuss Dharana, and then try a Dharana Guided Meditation or other Meditative Practice.
Nearly all meditation practices you think of are types of Dharana.
Dharana is the 6th Limb of Yoga, and is usually translated as concentration. This comes from the Sanskrit root “dhri” meaning to hold, carry, or maintain. I prefer to think of Dharana as intense focus, a bit stronger than “concentration”. This is typically the second step for meditation – after letting the outside world slip away, we then direct our focus inward. Please see our deep dive of Dharana for more. Most of the meditative practices we think of are therefore Dharana practices – see our full list!
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to try a Dharana-focused Meditation Practice. Perhaps try our breath-focused meditation again to prepare for tomorrow’s next level of meditation. Perhaps focus on your breath or body in Shavasana / Corpse Pose after an Asana practice, another meditative practice from our list, try a guided meditation below, or any other method of your own.. whatever feels right to you. We will cover mandalas and flame gazing later!
Please comment and let me know which you tried, and what you thought of this Dharana exercise! If you have another favorite, then please share the link! Always remember, be kind!
Please try all of these meditation poses, at least briefly and see which feels best for you! Please note there is no right or wrong here.. I am sharing MY Top 5, but many others may disagree with me. For example, I find Virasana / Hero Pose comfortable for an extended time only with a block under my seat, and occasionally find Lotus Pose enjoyable, which is too intense for many Yogis.
I enjoy Siddhasana (sid-DAH-sa-na) or Adepts Pose for Meditation. This is basically my comfortable seated position, and that is just how I always envisioned meditating! This Asana is basically a slightly more difficult version of Sukhasana / Easy Pose.
Start in a comfortable cross legged position. Then spread your knees a bit further, and bring your feet in towards your groin – keep your leg on the mat and tuck your ankles/shins over each other. Look down and make sure there is no empty space between your legs and feet. Keep your torso straight and tall over your hips. Take note of your rib cage. If you notice the bottom of rib cage is sticking out, pull back in and down to correct your posture. Next notice your shoulders. Try to gently roll your shoulders back and down, away from your ears. Notice how this helps your chest open. You can put your hands on the ground and gently press to lengthen your back, or rest your hands on your knees. You can pull a bit on your knees to help open your chest and help keep your back straight. You should keep your head, neck, and shoulders aligned over your hips in any seated pose. Your hands can either gently rest on knees and/or in your favorite mudra/placement for meditation. PS if any poses are uncomfortable, try with a couch pillow or block under your seat! Try not to move your body while meditating, I find it helps to switch my legs each day of practice for any cross legged positions to even out my posture!
Make sure you keep your back straight, not rounded in any seated position! If you notice your back rounding in this pose, move your legs back out to Sukhasana / easy pose, making a small triangle of empty space between your legs. I prefer Siddhasana over Sukhasana, because bringing in my feet helps me maintain a straighter back. I also prefer Siddhasana over Padmasana / Lotus Pose for meditation, since Lotus can get a bit strenuous on my ankles for an extended time.
2. SEATED IN A CHAIR – SEATED MEDITATION
Chair Yoga is very common, and chairs are often the most comfortable seat we can find! It is important to be comfortable and maintain your posture if you will be sitting for an extended period of time, and a chair can help with both. Driving is also my favorite meditative activity, so sitting in a chair (driver’s seat also counts to me) makes this #2 for my Top 5!
3. SHAVASANA – CORPSE POSE – RECLINED / SUPINE MEDITATION
Lay on your back, and allow your legs and feet to gently splay open. Rest your arms a few inches away from your body, with palms facing up. Close your eyes, and allow your entire body to relax and sink into the mat. You can use a couch pillow under your head and/or knees, or any modifications to make this pose more comfortable for an extended time. I occasionally take Shavasana with knees bent and feet on the floor, and/or with elbows bent and hands under my head or cactus-arms to the side.
To come out, gently roll onto your right side, then press your hand into the mat to come back up slowly into a seated position.
Virasana / Hero’s Pose is actually the most comfortable seat for many Yogis. However, this is my Top 5, and I find kneeling positions strenuous on my feet and knees for extended periods of time. I can only hold kneeling positions comfortably with a block under my seat! I do enjoy meditation in a kneeling position, resting my hands on my knees.
This is a kneeling Asana, and usually much more comfortable for Yogis with tight hips than the cross legged posses above. Start kneeling with knees and toes together. Then, bring the toes apart, and sit yourself down between your legs. Make sure to keep your back straight, with hips, shoulders, and head in line. This pose can be rough on my knees, and sometimes bothers my heels and tops of my feet if I’ve been wearing high heels. I find this pose much more comfortable with a block under my seat as pictured below.
CHECK OUT OUR Other Top 5 lists TOP 5 YOGA Equipment and Yoga MATS!
I would recommend a block, couch pillows, or perhaps a folded-up blanket for support under the seat. Pick your favorite chair for a seated meditation, or comfortable shoes for a meditative hike or walk!
There you have it, my Top 5 Meditation Positions! Please comment to share if your Top 5 would be different.. I know many Yogis enjoy seated positions other than Adept’s Pose, or prefer Shavasana to any other position. Always remember, be kind!
We are continuing on with weaving practice of each of the Niyamas into our day, and today is Tapas (self-discipline) Day. Each Tapas Day, we are making and/or checking a goal that was important to us. It has been a little more than four months since our first Tapas Day, and I would say I have successfully formed my new habit of (almost) daily Duolingo language practice, and have moved on testing daily Asana and Meditation habits. If you have not kept up with your daily habit goals, examine why you did not, and consider if you want to keep this goal or set a new one. Evaluate the electronic and visual reminders and/or rewards you set for yourself, and perhaps modify these systems to ensure your success!
Bonus Daily Meditation Challenge
If you are having a hard time keeping up with the daily habits you have set for yourself, consider trying and sticking with a 30 Day Challenge! We are in the middle of a bonus Daily Meditation Challenge for October! For Tapas day today, try a Morning Motivation Guided Meditation.
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to monitor our daily habit goals, and set a new one if needed. Also, let’s practice some of the recommended activities to support mental health for Mental Health Daytoday! We have covered many of these practices on the graphic on past days, but I can see get plenty of sunlight and get enough sleep have been missed – perhaps evaluate your sleep and sunlight intake, and take steps to make time for more sleep and sunlight each day! If you want to get an extra Yoga Workout for Tapas Day, I recommend Tiger Crunches – a great Ab and Glute workout!
Yoga is a practice, and successfully changing our habits is about consistency, so we will keep checking in on our goals on Tapas Days.
Please comment and share how you are doing. Have you kept up with your new habit? Are you changing your systems or perhaps setting a new meaningful goal? Is there another 30 Day Challenge theme you would like us to try? Always remember, be kind!
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Good Morning Yogis! Happy October! October is National Emotional Wellness Month. I find challenge-focused months super helpful for my own motivation, so today we are starting another challenge for October – Daily Meditation! You do not have to participate in this or any of our particular monthly challenge themes, we will be continuing our daily Positive Practices drawn from Yoga Philosophy throughout next month. Consider getting the Daily Yogi App for reminders if you are participating – this is a great Tapas tool!
As we begin Emotional Wellness Month and our bonus daily meditation challenge, I want to discuss an important common concept from Yoga Philosophy – Setting Intentions! If you have attended Yoga classes at a Yoga Studio, you likely have heard your teacher recommend setting an intention for your practice that day. We have talked about keeping Santosha / contentment in Asana practice to avoid injury. I often set Pranayama / Breath as my intention for Asana practice with a mantra of “breathe” or “just breathe”, since in more dynamic classes I forget to maintain my preferred Ocean Breath as the Asana series picks up speed. Here is a great article with more on intentions and mantras on and off the Yoga mat.
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to set a positive intention for yourself for October, keeping October’s mental and emotional wellness theme in mind. This can be big or small:
If you practice Asanas or another exercise regularly, perhaps ensure you set an intention before each session.
Join us on our October daily meditation challenge!
Part of the reason we set intentions in Asana practice is to have something positive to come back to that we want to focus on. Additionally, we will have this to return to when we meet challenges. I set “just breathe” as my intention for nearly a decade now, and I do truly breathe into difficulties on the mat, and I have improved my breath during v practice by keeping this in the back of my mind. There is much to be said for the power of positive thinking.
Although I do believe in the power of positive thinking and believe this helps with emotional wellness, I will discuss my own views on this a bit later this month. Here is more info if you do not want to wait!
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Please comment and share how if setting positive intentions is part of your Yoga or Asana practice. Are you taking other steps to improve your mental and emotional wellness this month? Are you going to join us in our daily meditation challenge for October? Always remember, be kind!