Along with asana and pranayama, meditation is a cornerstone of yoga practice. Although it is perfectly possible to meditate without practicing yoga, a real understanding of yoga and its deeper effects cannot be experienced without the practice of meditation. In simple words, meditation is a technique used to focus and quiet the mind, which in its turn induces relaxation in the body and a host of other benefits. In more yogic terms, meditation is the gateway to samadhi, the ultimate goal of yoga where individual and cosmic consciousness become one.
Once a meditation technique has been learned and practiced under the supervision of a qualified teacher, it can be practiced on its own for as long or as short as required. Meditation in the context of a yoga class can be done in a number of ways like in a seated posture, while holding a balancing yoga asana, in Savasana (corpse pose) and it can be about focusing entirely on the breath or take practitioners through a guided journey which may also involve visualisation techniques and mantra chanting. And let’s not forget that yoga asana is meditation in motion if practiced with awareness.
As my personal practice evolves, so does my approach to teaching meditation. I tend to avoid long periods of silent meditation in a group class as these are only suitable for experienced practitioners. The techniques I use most frequently include short silent meditation, chakra meditation with seed mantras, visualisation techniques and Chidshakti Prakriya®, the consciousness awakening technique I learnt in India. This new technique bestowed by Swami Paramanand Giri Ji Maharaj himself, was taught by Omanand Guruji for the first time in January 2012 at the Paramanand Indore ashram, where I was studying for my yoga therapy certification. This technique works on all levels of one’s being – known as ‘Koshas’ or ‘sheaths’ in yoga philosophy – and can be practised on its own or integrated into a yoga practice.