What are the Yogic Tools for calming the Mind?

Yoga definitely is about influencing the mind to become more and more calm. Calm mind is able to achieve much more than a distracted or an agitated mind.  You can observe this in your daily life.  When you are actually calm you are able to do much more than when you are disturbed or agitated. This is for many reasons. First of all, a calm mind needs less energy than a distracted energy or an agitated mind. When we use the calm mind, we have much more energy at our disposal, whereas when the mind is agitated or distracted the energy is lost unnecessarily and therefore we cannot do much more.

There is also another reason. When we are having a calm mind, we are able to reflect much more peacefully and therefore come to a much more appropriate solution rather than when we are agitated or distracted. That is why Yoga is emphasizing on calming the mind.

There are many tools that are presented for calming the mind in Yoga practices. A key among them is the technique of Pranayama. Pranayama is considered one of the best tools and the simplest tools to calm the mind. The longer our breathing becomes the more calm the mind also becomes.  Pranayama is considered as one of the best tools because it directly influences the mind and it can be done everywhere. I remember when I used to travel with my teacher, my father, sometimes we would be on the flight, he will just put the blanket around his head and do Pranayama under it because he didn’t want the people to be disturbed or get distracted from what they are doing. That is the flexibility of Pranayama. You can do it anywhere you want including the plane – as a passenger not as a pilot hopefully, as a passenger in a car you can do it in your house or yoga studio, you could do in a park or wherever you want.  This is why it is one of the most efficient and effective tools because it’s very practical.

But there are also other tools like visualization, meditation, mantra practices which are also very effective in calming the mind. What would be ideal is to check with our teachers what would be the best practice to be ideal for each of us to calm the mind in a most efficient and effective manner. This is because each of us are very different, we have different responsibilities in our life, we are in different stages of our life, and therefore what may appeal to us at this moment will be different from what will appeal to another person in the same moment. Its also possible that what will appeal to us at one point in our own life may be different from what will appeal to us at a different point of time.

That is why Yoga is not giving us one method but it is giving us many methods to calm our mind.

Keep calm and carry on.

Namaste!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga Teacher

WHAT IS MEDITATION?

Meditation is among the most important tools in Yoga practice. Patanjali dedicates an entire chapter – Chapter 3 for meditative practices. Meditation is the process of staying linked with an object of focus without any distraction which includes not only distractions from the outside but also distractions from the inside.

What does it mean? It means that many times we get distracted based on the memories we have of the object, imaginations we have of the object and even past experiences  we have of the object. When we relate with an object in thatway, when we are staying with that object in that way, we are no more in the present connection.

So meditation is a process of staying present or staying connected to an object of focus without judgements, without pre-conceived ideas, without any memories or imaginations. This can happen only when we make sure that the connection happens from our heart. So meditation is the process of opening our heart. Making a connection to the object of focus and the heart. Staying sustained with that object of focus within the heart so that we internalize the object of focus and eventually we achieve the qualities of these object of focus.

Presenting a more simple definition of meditation is my own teacher Sri TKV Desikachar. Sir TKV Desikachar defines Yoga as a meditation and as a relationship. What happens in a relationship? When we are really in a Relationship in a deep way it is a heart to heart relationship. That is what is meditation. Meditation is the relationship from our heart to the heart of the object of focus. This is Yoga. This is meditation.

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga® Teacher