Traditionally yoga was practiced and developed to open your body and clear your mind. It's so you can sit and meditate without dwelling on a stiff back or congestion in your thought process. It is also so that you are free and clear to focus your attention on the deeper imperative questions of life like 'who am I?' 'what is my purpose?' 'why do I exist?' and to seek out the answers.
The word yoga in its literal and deepest translation means to yoke, or unite, with God. The asanas and postures are the helpmate or a stepping-stone to that bigger picture of being connected to a higher source. More often than not we will practice yoga just for its physical benefits of having toned muscles, flexibility, and mental clarity. If we add a little meditation to our daily life and practice though, it will bring about a deeper sense of who we are and fill any gap in our lives giving you a true sense of completeness.
We tend to put meditation off to the side and say things like 'I don’t have the time,' or, 'I will start that next year,' or 'when I retire'… But Confucius has a brilliant saying that can be applied to anything in life. He says, “One who wants to do something will find a way and one who doesn’t will find an excuse." In yoga they say put all excuses aside and that time needs to be used wisely, that time is precious. When you are a child a day feels like a week, a week feels like a month, and a month feels like year. But when you get older a day feels like and hour, a week feels like a day, and month feels like a week. Time speeds up. Cultivating a strong spiritual or meditation practice is the ultimate expression of using your time wisely. Here is a simple meditation tip to start the process:
When starting your meditation practice you want to make it approachable and doable so we don’t get frustrated and burnt out (take baby steps!). I suggest setting aside 3-5 minutes every day to sit quietly and not to focus on stopping your thoughts but to use your mind to contemplate who you are, why you exist, and what your purpose is. This is considered the first step in anyone’s spiritual advancement. You can also add to this meditation by looking at yourself honestly -- looking at all your bad habits and the things you want to change about yourself.
Yoga and meditation are such valuable tools for life and happiness -- I hope you use them!