>>What has yoga got to do with meditation?
Yoga is over 5,000 years old.
1,000 years ago there were only 6 yoga postures. And each of these was a crossed legged sitting posture.
The implications of this is that for the preceding 4 and more thousand years, yoga was all about meditation. All about sitting practices working with the internal energies, in order to transform gross animalistic human beings, into more enlightened beings.
And the other physical yoga postures were only ‘invented’ within the past 1000 years in order to balance the endocrine system, balance the nervous system, remove energy blocks, and help open up the body in order to sit for meditation. To prepare oneself for this more inner transformative work with meditation.
However during the past 120 years, many modern schools of yoga seem to have lost sight of this fact that the postures were only introduced in order to prepare oneself for the deeper inner transformational work of meditation, and some schools of yoga now only focus on the yoga postures.
I illustrate this by drawing parallels between Yoga and to farmers growing crops and and then reaping the harvest.
And using the analogy where Asana is likened to Ploughing.
Reaping the harvest requires ploughing the field, in order to remove stones, churn up the soil, get the right conditions so that they can then plant seeds and then grow crops… carefully looking after them, nourishing them and then harvesting the crops and reaching enlightenment.
In this analogy, it is as if some of the modern schools of yoga have turned growing crops into ploughing championships, giving medals to people for their skill in ploughing… arguing about which way one should plough a field… but at the end of the day, not even planting any seeds… not nourishing the seeds, and then reaping the harvest.
It is like they have become stuck and have built a huge hierarchy and culture around the ploughing.
The fact that one feels great after doing ploughing, and that it can be good for going some way towards calming the mind, and balancing energies… can be quite distracting.
And some people who have not practised meditation (with diligence every day over a number of years) actually think that these superficial benefits one can experience after asana, is the goal of yoga.
However this good feeling state with energies flowing better, and clearer focus and better willpower, is only the starting point for the more transformative effects that can then take place through the age old meditational practices of yoga.
Without an experienced teacher who has benefited from years of meditation practice, the good feelings one can get from asana classes can distract one’s diligence from then seeking the benefits that can then be experienced by then under-taking the meditation practices that have been there for thousands of years. I firmly believe that under-taking the meditation practices is essential in order to reap the real benefits of Yoga.
So traditionally yoga is bringing together all levels of one’s being. It is bringing one’s awareness to a oneness of all. These transformations mainly take place through meditational practices. And the yoga postures, and the cleansing practices, the chanting, the mind focussing techniques, the karma yoga, the pranayama are all there to help support this inner transformational work.
So yoga is meditation. Or at least Yoga was Meditation. With other practices brought in to support this.
But unfortunately nowadays many yoga teacher training courses don’t even include meditation, and the ‘teachers’ who come through this factory line of short teacher training courses are left believing that yoga is primarily asana.
That is an over simplification and exaggeration, but I guess you get what I am trying to get across.