Before we start, I thought of sharing this sentence from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 11.49 – 11.50
“One must master posture and breath before undertaking a practice of meditation”
What is Meditation?
From my understanding, meditation is one of the techniques used for self-reflection. It allows us to be aware of our mental chatter noticing our thoughts and actions, going inward (deep) into our mind. Basically, meditation trains the mind and overtime this slow & steady practice allows us to shift our perspective.
As useful as meditation can be for many, this approach can actually agitate some people making it overwhelming for those that have a hard time separating themselves from their actual thoughts.
Naturally as humans we tend to get stuck in our heads, and believe it or not, the practice of still meditation can bring out unease and discouragement for certain people.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing is wrong with the practice of mindful meditation, it may be accessible for some and not for others which is completely okay, everyone is on their own journey going at their own pace.
If you are someone that feels like still meditation is not for you then so be it, it doesn’t make people that can meditate better than you.
TYPES OF MEDITATION
There are many forms of meditation not just the still mindful meditation that most people hear of, so you can adapt it to your own liking.
Here are just a few forms of meditation from the many available:
Movement Meditation – can be done on a mindful walk where you synchronize your breath with steps or even use affirmations during the walk
Guided Meditation – You can be seated or laying down listening to a pre-recorded track or guided by a practitioner
Mantra Meditation – Allowing your mind to focus on one word/ phrase and reciting it over and over again, this can be anything you desire
In my Yoga Therapy training we learn that everything is adaptable to make it accessible for the client in front of us.
What is Breath-work?
As Gwen Dittmar (Breath-Work Teacher) describes it, “Breath-work is the active form of consciously working your breath to bypass the mind & enter a different state of awareness”.
Basically, breath-work includes a wide range of conscious breathing practices that allows us to disconnect from the mind and reconnect with our body. This approach promotes awareness, self-regulation & personal transformation on a deep level. New science research has shown that conscious breathing is one of the quickest ways to open the heart and energize the body.
It does not require any sort of thinking, other than counting our own breath which deviates our mind from any mental chatter going on in there.
Breath-work helps us get out of our head without having to think about “how do I get out of my head” it just happens naturally, the same way we breathe naturally throughout our life from the day we were born up until the day our heart stops.
There are many techniques used in breath-work that are accessible to everyone.
Have you ever heard someone say “just meditate and you’ll find the answers” or “meditate and you’ll feel better”?
These phrases are over said in the yoga world and as a future yoga therapist, my intention is to build awareness on these misconceptions. Unfortunately there are negative effects of meditation when one is not ready for this particular state.
Rather than sitting still, trying to “meditate”, you can always shift your mind to simple and gentle breathing techniques which can actually activate your parasympathetic nervous system without agitation or triggers.
Breath-work can be done anytime, anywhere & by anyone. For instance, you can be sitting on your desk at work and doing a breath-work exercise.
As obvious as it is, breath is the only thing we cannot live without.
Our body knows how to breathe.
Everything we do in life affects our breath.
Changing a habit is not easy and starting a new habit is not easy.
If we can manage to master our breath, use it to control our emotions and responses, which in turn affects our nervous system, then we can learn to control our life.
Tools offered in breath-work help to regulate our nervous system activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System and that’s another topic on it’s own.
In my next article I will be covering the Nervous System, it’s different functions, how it affects us and tools for regulation.
Always remember, where breath flows, energy flows.
Interested to incorporate breath-work into your routine?