By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500
We know that Yoga posture enhances physical and mental health, but they also prepare the mind and body for meditation. Often considered a mental practice in contemporary culture, meditation itself has a strong physical component. In fact, clinical studies show that posture actually affects our emotional and mental states, as well as our behavior.
Researchers say that people who sit upright in their chairs solve mental math problems more effectively than those who slouch, look downward, and let their mouths hang open. In November of 2011, scientists in the Netherlands released findings suggesting that physically leaning the body to the left or the right influences the brain’s ability to estimate quantities, such as numbers, percentages, and sizes.
Given these results, the connection between posture and meditation seems obvious. In one of Charles Schulz’ classic cartoon strips, a slump-shouldered Charlie Brown tells Lucy, “The worst thing you can do is stand up and hold your head high because you will start to feel better…” Poor alignment creates breathing problems, blocks energy, and inhibits circulation, making it more difficult to stay alert and centered. In addition, it constricts muscles, stresses the back, and restricts the solar plexus.
Nevertheless, people who meditate must be able to relax and maintain a sense of awareness, and this requires experience. Too much tension creates a busy mind, and too much relaxation leads to drowsiness. Beginners, especially, may need to experiment with different methods of sitting or reclining until they become comfortable with longer sessions and more difficult positions.
Ancient texts recommend the following seven points as a guide for meditation posture:
• Legs are folded as seen in Sukasana (easy pose) or Padmasana (lotus pose). However, sitting upright in a chair or on a cushion, as well as lying in Corpse Pose, are acceptable alternatives, depending on the style of practice and the ability of the practitioner.
• Palms face upward or rest on the knees with palms down.
• Shoulders are balanced and the chest is open.
• The spine is straight.
• The chin slants slightly downward toward the throat.
• The tip of the tongue rests at the top of the palate, behind the front teeth.
• Eyes are open or half-closed, gazing slightly downward or straight ahead.
Like fine stringed instruments, the mind and body function more efficiently when there is equilibrium between ease and tension, but every person must find his own balance in order to establish a consistent meditation practice.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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