Sunday, May 03, 2015

Teaching Meditation in a Yoga Class: Setting an Intention

teaching meditation
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

There are many different forms of meditation practiced in the world today. The contemplative practice of coming to a still point in one's mind is found in every religion throughout the world. Although the outer forms of meditation may vary among spiritual traditions, the essential nature of the practice itself remains quite similar, regardless of the outer form. Ultimately, the practice of meditation is intended to lead the meditator to the inner chamber of his or her heart, where the flickering light of divinity resides.

The Ancient Greek word for meditation is “meletao.” When meletao is translated from Greek into English, one of the primary meanings is “to care for.” I think this is a lovely translation of the Ancient Greek root for our contemporary word for meditation. When we engage in the practice of meditation, we are focused on the most fundamental aspect of taking care of our minds and body, by promoting a sense of peace and expansive well-being when we allow our thoughts to come to rest in the still point within our own beings.  

If you are Yoga teacher, including even a brief period of meditation into your Yoga class will support your students in truly being able to rest. According to the classical Yogic scriptures, the primary purpose of practicing the physical postures of Yoga and pranayama exercises is to prepare the body and mind to settle into a deep, meditative state. Many students begin practicing Yoga in order to increase their physical well-being and prowess. By incorporating a period of meditation into your class, you will help your students to understand some of the profound inner benefits of a regular Yoga practice.  

The first recommended step to introducing your Yoga students to this contemplative practice is to explain some of the benefits of meditation, such as reducing anxiety, alleviating depression and lowering blood pressure. You may also wish to read a brief passage from a classical Yogic scripture, such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, in order to frame this practice in its proper context. The second step to introducing your students to the practice of meditation is to form an intention for the practice itself. There are many different forms of meditation that are intended to nurture and support different emotional states. 

For example, there are many forms of Buddhist meditation that strive to increase certain emotional states within the meditator’s heart and mind. Some of these emotional states include feelings of compassion, forgiveness and generosity. Other practices of meditation are primarily aimed at stilling the thought waves of the mind. These meditation practices encourage a sense of being grounded, present and focused. The type of meditation practice that you teach to your Yoga students will depend on the individual students in your class and on the overall feeling in your Yoga class on any given day.

In other words, if you are planning to lead your students through a meditation session focused on generating feelings of compassion, but you find that your class is very ungrounded and scattered, it may be more effective to offer your Yoga students a meditation visualization that is intended to help them feel more grounded. For instance, by focusing on an internal image of one candle flame, their minds will be more likely to quiet and rest in the stillness within their own beings. This ability to mentally rest, however brief, will help to restore and rejuvenate your students for the day or evening ahead. 

Similarly, if your Yoga students are experiencing a lot of emotional upset around the holidays, and many of them are struggling to forgive family members or friends for their perceived shortcomings, you may find that leading your class through a brief period of meditation that is intended to nurture feelings of generosity and forgiveness is more appropriate. It is not uncommon for many Yoga instructors to feel resistant to leading their students through a session of meditation during class because of a perceived lack of time. However, by sequencing your class in such a way that the physically active portion of the practice finishes 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled end of your class, you will have an ample amount of time to facilitate a calming and nourishing period of meditation for your Yoga students. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at:

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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parvezbdjsr said...

Meditation practices encourage a sense of being grounded, present and focused. Thanks for good posting!

Mary Wilson said...

Including a brief period of meditation in Yoga class support the students in truly being able to rest. Thanks for nice sharing!