Right now, your mind is whirling with possibilities. Is it the headstand? The handstand? Shoulderstand? Uzbekistan?
All good guesses, but no dice, yogi. Let me throw you a bone and blow your mindfulness.
It’s seated meditation.
Seated meditation? What the French, fry?
No, you haven’t been duped. Think about it. What is the highest form of yoga? Breath and present moment awareness. And what posture is perfectly designed to offer and sustain that celestial combo?
It’s so nice let’s say it twice … seated meditation.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that scorpion, wounded peacock or one-handed tree pose aren’t challenging. And it’s not to say that standing elbow to elbow in a 105-degree room with 80 strangers just attempting triangle isn’t demanding. But, none of those are as difficult (or as important) as seated meditation.
Because with approximately 70,000 thoughts moving through our minds each day, having the right posture to force us to slow down and focus on just one thought is pretty impressive. This is why so many yoga classes begin in this sacrosanct pose. Why every class ultimately ends in this pose. And you thought it was savasana ...
Now, your rational mind might be fighting me on this theory. “Seated meditation isn't doing yoga, it’s just meditation in a yoga class," you might be saying. Let’s turn for a moment to ashtanga, the very foundation of yoga, for a couple of insights.
In case you’re new to yoga or you’ve forgotten, ashtanga is Sanskrit for "8 limbs" with limbs meaning principles, ideals or traits. The poses (or asanas) account for one of the eight. The other seven are:
- Yamas - ethical guidelines for living a virtuous life externally such as non-violence and non-stealing
- Niyamas - ethical guidelines how living a virtuous life inwardly such as self-study and finding happiness in what you have instead of coveting your cousin's '84 Trans Am
- Pranayama - control of life force (ie. proper breathing)
- Pratyhara - withdrawl from the senses, or simply turning your attention inward
- Dharana - concentration, or holding steady on a single thing or moment
- Dhyana - meditation
- Samadhi - an intense state of concentration achieved through meditation
Hmmmmm ... is it me or do eight out of eight limbs agree that breath and mindfulness is essential? Maybe yoga really does have less to do with down dog and more to do with seated meditation. Maybe it really is more an inner workout than an outer one.
So the next time someone challenges you to a 10-minute forearm plank, tell them you know a harder pose to counter-challenge.
Or you could just take lay on your back and fall asleep in savasana. Works for me.