Meditation Postures

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According to many traditionalists, one of the main purposes of hatha yoga is to train the body and mind for meditation. The relaxation exercises just discussed are part of this training, and they can also be used in modified form when we sit in meditative postures. Other exercises that can prepare you for meditation include sitting perfectly still in the meditative posture of your choice; holding your attention within the body and maintaining awareness of muscles, joints, and the structure of the sitting posture; remaining calm, comfortable, alert, and still; and above all breathing evenly, silently, and diaphragmatically without jerks, pauses, or noise. Only when you have achieved some mastery of these seemingly simple exercises in the meditative sitting postures can actual training in meditation begin.

To get an idea of what's involved, sit cross-legged on the floor and focus for a few seconds on the body. Then prepare for meditation—going beyond the body to work with the breath and beyond the breath to examine the operations of the mind. To remain alert in meditation the body has to be erect, stable, comfortable, and stdl. So why not stand? Because you do not want to be concerned about tipping around in a gravitational field. Then why not lie in the corpse posture? Because you do not want to doze off instead of remaining alert. But what if you can stay awake in the corpse? That's harder to say, but something about meditation requires an erect smi a\atom\ of ha !ha uk,a spine—not merely erect, but erect under its own power. Lying down, it do« not work for most people.

So we must sit and sit erect. There are six main postures that accompli. this—sitting in a chair, kneeling on the floor or a bench, sitting in the cm-legged easy posture, and sitting in what we'll call the classic meditative po tures: the auspicious, the accomplished, and the lotus poses. Most studen of yoga would like to use one of these last three, but nearly all YVesterm will have difficulty doing that at first. In ancient India where the postui were refined, people sat on the ground or on their haunches with the fc flat, and they grew up with strong and flexible hip and ankle joints. Thi had no trouble sitting flat on the floor. But in the West we sit mostly chairs, couches, and automobile seats, and because of this we have troul acclimating to these three traditional meditative postures.

To resolve some of these difficulties, we'll first look at the architecti of a generalized classic yoga sitting posture and then we'll discuss anatomical features required to hold it upright. Next we'll examine pi to make the pose easier for Westerners. Then we'll look at the six stand; d sitting postures in detail, and we'll end with some general guidelines r mastering them.

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