The physical postures of yoga naturally lend themselves to meditation, as holding certain poses can calm the mind, focus energy, and promote inner reflection. If you’re looking to deepen your meditation practice through yoga, incorporating purposefully chosen asanas can help create the optimal conditions for going inward.
Let’s look at some of the top yoga poses to complement and enhance meditation:
Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
The traditional cross-legged position, Lotus pose, is a stable base that allows breathing and energy to flow freely. The symmetry and rooting down through the base promotes equilibrium and serenity.
Child's Pose (Balasana)
This kneeling forward fold gently stretches the hips, back, and shoulders. Its inward curvature cushions the body, turns focus inward, and relaxes the mind.
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
Elevating the legs resting against a wall relieves tension throughout the lower body and core. This inversion lets gravity facilitate stillness and quiet in the mind.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Hinging at the hips to fold forward over extended legs stimulates relaxation. Let gravity calm and quiet your mind as you breathe into this soothing stretch.
Half Lotus Twist (Ardha Padmasana Twist)
This seated twist combines hip opening from a half lotus leg position with the concentration of a twisting torso. It aligns the spine, focuses breathing, and stimulates mental clarity.
Supported Reclining Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Lying back over bolsters with soles of the feet touching creates comfort and release throughout the body. This restorative pose turns the senses inward.
There are countless asanas that can complement a meditation practice when held with mindful intention. Experiment with integrating different poses and find what best meets your body and mind’s needs during meditation.
There are several main types of yoga, with some being more suitable for beginners than others. Here's an overview of different yoga styles and which may be easier for those just starting out:
- Hatha - A gentle, slow-paced style focused on basic poses, breathing and meditation. Good for beginners.
- Vinyasa - Faster-paced flow linking poses together. Requires more coordination so can be challenging for beginners.
- Yin - Holding seated and supine poses for longer periods to target connective tissues. Beginner-friendly.
- Restorative - Using props to support the body in gentle poses. Calming and accessible for beginners.
- Iyengar - Emphasizes alignment using props like blocks and straps. Step-by-step instruction is good for beginners.
- Ashtanga - A vigorous style with set sequences of physically demanding postures. Better for intermediate/advanced.
For yoga newcomers, Hatha, Yin, Restorative, and Iyengar styles offer an easier introduction, with their slower pacing, use of props, and focus on relaxation. Vinyasa and Ashtanga are faster-paced and better suited for those with existing yoga experience.
As for incorporating candles, some options are: placing candles around your space for ambiance, using the flame as a timer for holds, selecting intention or aromatherapy candles to set a mood, and being mindful of fire safety. Candles can enhance a yoga practice visually, aromatically and through ritual.