The marriage between Zen Buddhism and Hatha Yoga is very natural, both have strong adherence to living in the present, focusing on your breath as a vehicle to calm the mind, awareness of our true nature and the list goes on.
Zen Buddhism is based on the following Four Foundations:
Mindfulness of the Body
Mindfulness of Feelings
Mindfulness of Thoughts
Mindfulness of Values
We can thread all 4 foundations in a sincere Hatha Yoga class. By bringing ourselves to be acutely aware of our postural alignment we address the first foundation. The awareness of what sensations are created in each posture addresses the second foundation, for example, whether it is a feeling of expansion or stiffness. The third foundation is addressed by gauging the clarity of our mind during our class, whether we keep wondering away or if have a sensibility of our breathing patterns in different poses, how it changes in a forward bend, a backward bend and a twisting asana. Finally, the fourth foundation is determined by what we dedicate our practice to, whether is a life affirming practice or simply a set of movements that fuel our ego will shine light on our own value system.
Yoga Meditation Can Help to Connects Your Body & Mind
Here are 3 meditation techniques that help us to fully appreciate how connected body and mind are
1. Present Stillness
Sit comfortably for a few minutes, don’t force yourself into any position or stiffly hold your posture, just sit still in the most natural cross legged position. After a few moments notice your posture, your tendency to stoop forwards and slouch. Don’t change it to sit straight, just notice it without any judgment or manipulation. Keep your body frozen in this position. Slowly unfreeze your position keeping your mind still and feel how slowly your body uses its own intelligence to sit upright, not through force of the mind but by giving your body the space to act in accordance to its own feeling. Here the lesson is the mind should not assert force on the body, the less resistance that is placed the more natural it is to open, this is extremely important for a safe yoga practice free from injury and strain.
2. Scanning for Energy
Start in a crossed legged seated position, bring your attention to the crown of your head, feel the sensations around your skull, the energy, the subtle vibration. Work your way down through each inch of the body until your are so deeply connected to the energy that surrounds your whole being. This also allows us to consciously bring healing energy in areas of the body that feel heavy and tense. Use this technique in a yoga pose and notice how you are pulsing with life!
3. Physicality of Emotions
When you are holding a strong emotion, notice that it is how you are feeling, rather than embodying that emotion. For example, that you are feeling angry not that you are anger. Notice how your body responds to this emotion, the tightness around your stomach, the clench in your jaw. As you notice your physical response, try to consciously relax, be aware of your emotion. It is so interlinked, the moment your body stops responding to the emotion that grasp of it on your mind is much weaker. With your awareness you can backward engineer the effect of negative emotions on your being so you can respond calmly rather than reacting impulsively. This is a lesson so important in mindful living, bringing much more peace of mind and true serenity in each moment.