For a long time I didnt even realise that yoga has practices for the mind. What an oversight! In actual fact, yoga is as much about mind as body. There are many yogic mind training techniques. And perhaps number one is meditation.
Take a look below and try each of the techniques. And for best results, book a meditation lesson with me today.
Yogic Meditation Techniques
1. Meditation while yoga-ing
Yogjc meditation goes everywhere from mantras to “Tibetan Dreams”. But the easiest way to get started is simply to be mindful while you are doing your regular yoga workout.
2. Nada Yoga
Nada yoga is sound meditation. [Wiki] Here’s how to do it.
- Start playing some relaxing healing sounds, like a Tibetan singing bowl or some Kundalini Yoga music.
- Take a comfortable position with good posture. The easiest way is while doing Shavasana. Lie on the ground on your back. Make sure your spine is comfortable (place a blanket under the small of your spine for extra comfort). Rotate your ankles out a little. Let your neck relax and elongate. Close your eyes.
- Focus your mind on the sound of the music you are listening to. Let your mind rest on the music. If thoughts enter your mind, simply label them as you would in Vipassana and then continue meditating on the sound. Your mind will begin to calm, and you will start to feel like you are one with the music. Continue to meditate on the music.
- Once you feel like you are one with the music, begin to tune in to your inner sound. Listen to the sounds of your mind and body. Meditate on them. Aim to be one with them. Keep meditating on your inner sound until you hear the ultimate sound that is “Para Nada”, the universal sound manifesting in “Om”.
If you would like to learn more about nada yoga I highly recommend the book The Law of attention, Nada yoga and the way of Inner Vigilance by Michael Edward Salim.
Mantras are all over religion and spirituality. And they are a yogic practice too. Indeed, some people think mantras started in yoga, but this is definitely not the case.
Mantras are most prevalent in Kundalini Yoga. If you are looking for ways to activate Kundalini energy, you might like to start chanting various mantras such as “Sa Ta Na Ma” and “Wahe Guru.”
Deepak Chopra [founder, The Copra Center] states that “mantras serve as a vehicle for the mind to transition from diversity to unity”. When you focus your whole mind on a mantra you achieve unification of the mind.
4. Chakra Dhyana
In the book Chakra Theory And Meditation, yoga teacher Paul Grilley explains that the chakras are energy centres through which prana (life force) flows. The thing is, your chakras can get blocked, and this could cause all manner of physical and mental health complications.
Thank Patanjali we can meditate on the chakras to open them and get prana flowing once again. Doing so offers numerous health benefits and is an excellent way to improve general wellbeing.
5. Third Eye (Ajna Chakra)
If you thought, “Third Eye Meditation is just another chakra meditation” then give yourself a cookie because you’re right. The thing is, Third Eye Meditation is so important that it demands its own place in this list of yogic meditations.
In the book The Secret Doctrine vol. II, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky states that thousands of years ago humans had a third eye in the forehead and that this eye gradually shifted inward. This “Third Eye”, according to Richard Cavendish [Man, Myth and Magic – Volume 19] is the gateway to perception beyond ordinary sight.
To open the third eye, we use Ajna Meditation. This usually combines the Shambhavi Mudra (Eyebrow Gazing) with traditional meditation. This is said to develop the five siddhis:
- Trikālajñatvam: knowing the past, present and future
- Advandvam: tolerance of heat, cold and other dualities
- Para Citta ādi abhijñatā: knowing the minds of others
- Agni arka ambu viṣa ādīnām pratiṣṭambhaḥ: checking the influence of fire, sun, water, and poison.
- Aparājayah: remaining unconquered by others
Here’s how to do Third Eye Meditation.
6. Trataka (“Still Gazing”)
This is one of the best meditations in yoga for cultivating inner-stillness and concentration, according to the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine [source]. And according to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh [Dynamics of Meditation] it opens the mind to psychic powers.
Here’s how to do Trataka:
- Place a lit candle on a table or shrine about a metre or so in front of you. Sit close, but, you know, don’t burn your face on the candle.
- Fix your gaze on the candle
- Meditate on the flame of the candle.
- Hold your gaze still and continue to meditate on the flame. Take 25 breaths
- Now close your eyes. You will see the candle in your mind’s eye.
- Meditate on the mental image of the candle for another 25 breaths.
When I practice Trataka I’m immediately more able to focus.
Note that we teach this method in our corporate meditation classes.
Bhakti yoga is one of the more spiritual types of meditation in yoga. In fact, it is one of the trinity of meditations described in the Bhagavad Gita according to Michael C. Brannigan [Striking a Balance: A Primer in Traditional Asian Values].
When we do Bhakti, we meditate on a deity to achieve oneness.
If you’re a spiritual person, you’ll love this. You will definitely have heard Sadhguru and Paramahansa Yogananda discussing this one, and it truly is a marvelous method.
8. Dhyana Yoga (Jnana)
Many of my students have spent years doing asanas but only just gotten into the mental aspects. When they ask me “What is meditation in yoga”, I say Jnana.
Dhyana is the oldest of these meditations and was first mentioned in the Upanishads. There is a passage in Upanishads (classical Hindu text) when Arjuna talks to Lord Krishna about Dhyana. He says that the yogic path includes devotional service (bhakti), action (karma), meditation (dhyana), and knowledge (jnana). To properly walk the yogic path, we must practice all these aspects.
Yoga jnana is about developing profound oneness by breaking down the gap between consciousness and reality. Deep stuff, right? That’s why I wrote a complete guide to Dhyana meditation.
According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, there are significant benefits of this method, which you can read about here.
Oh boy. Kundalini meditation.
Everyone likes tossing out the word “Kundalini” like it were this year’s must-have fashion item. So, what is kundalini meditation? It is a yoga meditation brought to the West by Yogi Bhajan.
We use kundalini meditation to awaken kundalini energy (powerful feminine energy dormant at the base of the spine). According to Om Swami [Kundalini: An Untold Story], this energy represents the divine feminine energy of the goddess.
10. Kriya Yoga
Kriya yoga is a collection of meditative exercises taught by Indian yogi guru Paramahamsa Yogananda.
This stuff is deep. Real deep. Probably too deep for your regular yoga-pants enthusiast. But if you’re cool enough to be a proper spiritual yogi, then you’ll love it.
Kriya yoga includes different levels of pranayama, mantra, and mudra practices. These are said to aid spiritual development according to Timothy Miller, author of the book America’s Alternative Religions.
Yogananda stated that the Kriya Yogi is dedicated to “directing life to the six centres of the spine that relate to the zodiac.”
For an example, read my guide to Kirtan Kriya Meditation.
I know: your mom told you that Tantra is this sex cult thing that Sting was involved with. Well, your mom only got a tiny bit of the story. Because while Tantra does include some sexual techniques, it’s way deeper than that.
Tantra is about as deep as Marianas Trench—that’s deep, real deep. It involves all kinds of meditative methods and contemplations. There are 108 meditations in the text Vijnanabhairava Tantra alone, and several of them are profound.
I looked online for an excellent guide to Tantra meditations, but I couldn’t find one! So, I’ll write one for you guys when I get around to it (subscribe to our newsletter for updates).
Pratyahara is not a strictly meditative yogic practice. It’s more of a yogic mind training system that involves closing off external stimuli to protect your mind. According to Patanjali, Prathyahara is “Withdrawal from the senses”.
It is about removing negative influence from your life. The thing is, if you do this and also meditate, you’ll have the healthiest mind ever. That’s why I wrote an in-depth guide to Pratyahara yoga.
According to Patanjali, yoga meditation begins with Pratyahara, which clears the mind ready for meditative practices.
Samyama meditation is the deepest and most profound of all yoga meditations. That’s why I wrote a complete guide to it. Click the previous link to learn all about it.
I’ve taught everyone from five-year-old kids to the elderly all different types of yogic meditation techniques. They all got something out of it. And you will too.
Here’s the funny thing: Everyone knows about the physical types of yoga. Yet next to no one knows about yogic meditations like Samyama—except yoga teachers and we yogis who are passionate about the yogic philosophy (which probably includes you, right?).
Each of the techniques above has its own benefits. For instance, Trataka is a fabulous way of cultivating inner-stillness and concentration. Nada Yoga, on the other hand, is a profound way of simulating the parasympathetic nervous system to create a deep sense of relaxation. And mantras offer myriad benefits depending on the specific mantra you choose to recite.
Because each of the methods offers its own unique benefits, I highly recommend trying all of them.
If you would like to know more about these exercises, book an online meditation lesson with me today.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison