Nothing is quite as satisfying as a yoga practice that’s filled with movement. Whether you prefer an intense and sweaty vinyasa practice, a gentle but deliberate Viniyoga practice, or something in between, all systems of hatha yoga provide a contented afterglow for the same reason: You sync your movement with your breath. When you do, your mind stops its obsessive churning and begins to slow down. Your attention turns from your endless to-do list toward the rhythm of your breath, and you feel more peaceful than you did before you began your practice. Quite simply, meditation can profoundly alter your experience of life. Thousands of years ago the sage Patanjali, who compiled the yoga sutra, and the Buddha both promised that meditation could eliminate the suffering caused by an untamed mind. They taught their students to cultivate focused attention, compassion, and joy. And they believed that it was possible to change one’s mental powers and emotional patterns by regularly experiencing meditative states. Those are hefty promises.
Improve Your Attention
New research shows that meditation can help you improve your ability to concentrate in two ways. First, it can make you better at focusing on something specific while ignoring distractions. Second, it can make you more capable of noticing what is happening around you, giving you a fuller perspective on the present moment.
Some of the most fascinating research on how meditation affects attention is being conducted by Antoine Lutz, PhD, an associate scientist at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, in collaboration with Richard Davidson and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin. Their work has shown that concentration meditation, in which the meditator focuses complete attention on one thing, such as counting the breath or gazing at an object, activates regions of the brain that are critical for controlling attention.
Put It into Practice
Sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be disturbed. Take three to five quiet breaths. Gently close your eyes. Imagine the horizon spanning through your chest with a radiant sun rising in your innermost centre—your heart. As though being melted by the solar warmth, release tension in your shoulders and across your throat. Soften your forehead and rest your attention inward on the light deep within. Take 7 to 10 smooth, even breaths.
As you inhale, invite the glow from your heart to expand toward the inner surface of the body. With each exhale, let the light recede. Take another 7 to 10 peaceful breaths. Inhaling, invite the light to touch the parts of you that interact with the world—your eyes and ears, the voice centre in your throat, the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet. Continue until your attention wavers. Then, sit quietly for several minutes.
When you feel complete, place your palms together in front of your heart and bow your head. Release the backs of your hands to your thighs and lift your head. Gently open your eyes to return to the horizon of the world.
Source:- Yoga Journal
By:- Kelly McGonigal