Ultimately, the goal of all Yoga practice is to dissolve into the flame of love that dwells in the inner sanctum of our own hearts. Along the way, of course, we may get into better shape, harness internal power, and lose a few pounds with a regular practice of Yoga postures. Additionally, practicing Yoga three or more times a week will reap a practitioner many physical and emotional benefits. You will most likely become more flexible, physically stronger and more able to tolerate the vicissitudes of life with peace and equanimity.
If you also include a period of meditation at the end of your Yoga asana practice, your mind will begin to settle, and you will more easily be able to rest in the spaciousness of your own being. In Buddhism, this is called the clear light of bliss. In Hinduism, it is often referred to as abiding in the cave of the heart. Over the millennium, Yogis, Yoginis and spiritual practitioners of all persuasions have reported back to us that there is a beautiful, scintillating blue light that opens up within our own beings when we are able to drop into a deep state of mediation.
This state is available to all of us, at any time, if we are able to truly rest our entire body and mind in the pulsation of divine love within our own hearts. However, this may be more easily said than done for most of us! Frequently, our minds are on overdrive trying to plan all of the activities that we must accomplish in a day. Our emotions may also be tumultuous, depending on our current life experiences. Practicing Yoga asanas and pranayama exercises will help to release physical tension, clear the mind and settle the heart. These practices will also prepare our body and mind for meditation.
When our bodies are at ease and our minds are more at peace, it is much easier to drop into the quiet space of profound love that resides at the core of our own being. This formless, divine energy is the same energy that flows through Shiva. There are many ways to connect to Shiva’s formless, divine energy. One of the most effective ways that I have experienced is through the recitation of the classical mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya.” This mantra can be translated as, “I bow to the essence of Shiva who resides in my own heart.”
Another wonderful way of connecting to Shiva’s energy is through chanting his name. There are many different Shiva chants available online today or on compact disc. Many practitioners find it to be much easier to meditate after practicing a series of Yoga poses, pranayama exercises and engaging in a period of chanting or mantra recitation. In fact, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the goal of Yoga practice is to cease the fluctuations of the mind and prepare the body to sit for an extended period of meditation.
If you are a Yoga teacher, you may wish to guide your students through a series of Yoga asanas, breathing exercises and a brief period of chanting before having them sit in meditation. You may even wish to record the chant, “Om Namah Shivaya” on an iPod and take it to class with you. As your students come out of Shavasana, ask them to sit in Easy Seat or Lotus Pose on their Yoga mats and chant with the recording you have made. The practice of chanting will fill the atmosphere with the divine pulsation of Shiva’s essence. Incorporating a period of chanting and meditation into your class may take some planning on your part, but even a five or ten minute period of chanting and meditation at the end of class will begin to settle your students’ minds and accustom their bodies to meditating after asana practice.
If you are practicing Yoga on your own, you may wish to set aside a period of time after you have completed the active portion of your practice to rest in the spaciousness of your own being. Allowing you a dedicated period of time to meditate is one of the keys to establishing a regular meditation practice. If you meditate at approximately the same time everyday and in the same area of your home, the meditative energy will begin to build, and this energy will enable you to more easily dissolve into the light of Shiva residing in your own heart.
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