Recently, I received an Email from a colleague about local Yoga students and their desire to “skip” meditation. It seems some Hatha Yoga students find it appropriate to get up and leave before meditation starts. In the area, where he is located of the western United states, no Yoga studios have meditation, as part of the curriculum.
Apparently, there is a lack of interest and this would leave most Yoga teachers discouraged. However, these same Yoga students love Asana practice. They state that meditation is boring and they could be doing something useful instead.
What can Yoga instructors do, to explain the mental benefits of meditation? At this point, mentioning spiritual benefits would fall on deaf ears. When Yoga students cannot appreciate anything beyond physical stimulation, it is doubtful they would appreciate anything that cannot be physically measured.
If we teach Yoga without mediation, is it really Yoga anymore? Is this how the Pilates Method was born? Should we “fold in” to popular demand, in order to keep our Yoga studios open? Should we create a new Yoga hybrid without a soul?
There are many new and interesting ideas to develop the mind and body connection, but Yoga teachers should not be discouraged. When most of our Yoga students get a mind and body connection through asana practice, this is a small start for the evolution of Hatha Yoga in western culture.
We live in a culture of “Attention Deficit Disorder,” and it is difficult for people to focus and unplug from distractions. Most of our Yoga students are totally addicted to multi-tasking. Some Yoga students quietly refuse to shut their cell phones off in class. No matter how many signs you post, there will be a Yoga student who will leave his or her cell phone on, and it will ring off.
No wonder, Bhakti, Jnana, and Karma Yoga, never got a serious foot hold here.
Although Yoga teachers spend time on daily meditation; a deep meditation session may not be “popular” with your students, if a lot of nervous energy is in the room.
In this case, you could expose your Yoga students to a five minute session of mindfulness or Breath Awareness meditation. It is a start, and a brief tour toward their inner being. A brief five, or ten, minute relaxation sequence is also an option.
Very few of my students want to experience more than the 15 minute meditation segment, at the end of a Yoga class. Being distracted and multi-tasking is a normal state of mind to children. Unfortunately, many parents are in the “same boat.”
Therefore, Yoga teachers should not their waste time, lecturing students about the benefits of meditation. You would be better off creating a student handout about meditation for stress management and mental health. It is reasonable to say, that everyone should give their mind a rest. The ancient Yogis knew this and it is up to Yoga teachers to let the public be aware of the benefits of meditation.
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