The Yoga of Sitting

Every PranaVayu class incorporates at least 15 minutes of meditation into the practice.   One you’ve gotten the hang of it, this can be one of the best parts of the class.  However, if you’re new to the practice, you might find that calming the body and the mind can be very challenging.

In my experience, physical posture is one of the keys to making your meditation experiences more accessible.  The reason that this is the case is that a hyper rigid  posture  can lead to increased physical tension and an agitated state of mind.  Alternatively, a slouching or overly relaxed posture can lead you into the lows of sleepiness and and dullness. The good news is that a solid meditation posture can really help reduce distractions created by both of these extremes and make it much easier to cultivate a peaceful, clear and open state of mind.

Traditional Representation of the Seven Pointed Posture

In PranaVayu Yoga, we use  the Seven Pointed Posture of Vairocana (Buddha of Light) to create a more balanced mental and physical state for meditation.  I originally learned this posture from my guru Lama Migmar Tseten Rinpoche. Physically, using this posture will help you to redirect weight into your skeletal structure and make it easier to sit upright for longer periods of time.

Emotionally speaking, yoga practitioners from the Tantric Buddhist traditions believe that imbalances in the earth, air, fire or water element in the body can also exacerbate mental agitation or dullness.  These practitioners believe that these elements can in some part be balanced by physical posture and often use the seven pointed posture to accomplish this end.

The next time you meditate, try to lessen mental and physical distractions while you practice by integrating these seven points:

To Balance Earth… 

1. Sit with your legs crossed in some comfortable way. 

  • If Vajra posture is too difficult, any cross legged position will do.  You can even sit in a chair if you need to.

2.  Make sure that your spine is straight.

  • To do this, elongate from the core of the pelvis upward through the crown of your head.

To Balance Water… 

3.  Place your hands in your lap with the palms facing up.  Touch the tips of your thumbs together.   

  • The hands should be placed about four finger widths below the navel.
  • This mudra creates a receptive state of mind and deepens concentration.

4.  Let your shoulders be heavy.  

  • To reduce tension in the neck, allow your shoulders to drop away from the ears.
  • Allow your elbows to point outward to the side of the room.  Allowing your outer elbows to feel very heavy can also reduce additional tension from the neck.

To Balance Fire…

5.  Lower your chin slightly

  • To begin, start with your face in a leveled position with relation to the wall in front of you. Once you have found this position, draw your chin downward a couple of inches.  Press your Adam’s apple gently backward toward the spine and upward toward the crown of your head to lengthen the spine upward further as the chin drops down.
  • Physically, this introspective head position can help to prevent mental excitability

To Balance Air 

6.  Hold your eyes halfway open  

  • This posture uses eye position to reduce distractions. The eyes are opened one half-way to reduce the likelihood of sleepiness or lethargy. Holding this position with the eyes can help to reduce mental agitation that arises from external distractions.
  • Don’t worry if this makes your eyes water at first.  Focus on relaxing.  With practice, you will be able to maintain this eye position with ease.
7.  Place your tongue on the roof of the mouth just behind the teeth.  
  • This helps to control the flow of saliva as your meditation deepens.  
Like most things physical, this posture may seem a bit awkward at first.  Practice makes perfect though!  Practice breath awareness from this posture for 15 minutes every day and you’ll get it down in no time.
Have a happy practice!
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