We will start with a brief introduction to what meditation is, where it comes from, and why meditation is important in yoga. Yoga itself is based on three pillars. These three pillars are what yoga is all about. Three lines, three paths of development.
Pillars of Yoga
We have the path of wisdom: jnana yoga. We have the path of meditation: raja yoga. And we have the path of devotion: bhakti yoga. These three paths are the main focus of everything in yoga. Now you are starting to practice meditation, as you go deeper, you may find out that the meditation will start shifting into wisdom. Your inner wisdom. The wisdom of your own experience. If you start going deeper into wisdom, you may find out that you will get devotion. Or if you go deeper into devotion, you may find out that your devotion shifts back to meditation. Meditation becomes wisdom, wisdom becomes devotion, and devotion becomes meditation. These are the three pillars; they nourish each other and make the core of yoga.
There is a fourth pillar, which is the yoga of action: karma yoga. This pillar is integrated into all of the other pillars. It’s about applying yoga in everyday life. It’s about not just being a loving person when I’m sitting in meditation posture, or when I am inside the ashram, but in everyday life.
One of the most important paths in yoga to find inner wisdom is meditation. Meditation is the path to getting to know yourself, of understanding what this inner journey is. With meditation you will start seeing the patterns of the mind.
When we are meditating we are trying to balance yoga with tantra, balance will and determination with acceptance. So when I am meditating, what I am doing is trying to accept what I cannot change; I want to find the balance between accepting what I can’t change and putting my will into what I feel can be changed for good.
From your hips downwards you are strong, firm. It is your will and determination, it’s structured. It’s grounded. Grounding in meditation is key. If I don’t have a good grounding, I will struggle so much.
Another thing to be aware of is the base of your spine, the connection to mother earth. It has to be strong. In order to do that, place cushions underneath you that are harder so that you get more grounding. From your hips upwards is acceptance. There shouldn’t be any muscle power. With the right grounding you can sit straight without any effort.
In your posture, you may also want to try using mudras, or hand positions. There is a very well-known mudra: it is to connect the meridians to create a better flow of energy. You connect the index finger and the thumb and rest the hands on the knees.
You can also rest your hands in front of your hara, which is approximately two and a half inches below the navel. This position is more Buddhist. You might put a cushion in your lap to hold them.