For the past five weeks we have been practicing meditation on our butts. This week we will be trying a new approach to mindfulness, one that involves movement.
In the case of yoga, we will be practicing mindful hatha yoga which can be different from what is often on offer in North American yoga studios, where the focus can sometimes tilt towards flexibility, fitness and quickly moving through many poses. Mindful hatha yoga is practiced more slowly, holding poses for a longer period of time to cultivate awareness of body sensations and develop a stronger connection between mind and body.
I have to admit, I did not get this kind of yoga until I started meditating. It just seemed like boring slow-moving exercise for hippies. Then I started meditating and all of sudden paying attention to my breath and body sensations while doing the boring slow-moving exercises made so much more sense. Now I delight in the energy rush and body sensations that come along with each posture, because I actually notice they are happening.
Alternatively, if yoga is not your thing, you can still practice mindful movement in the form of a walking meditation. A walking meditation is beautiful in its simplicity – it can be practiced anywhere. You can turn your daily walk to work into a meditation if you choose by paying close attention to the sensations of walking.
Mindful movement is another great tool in the mindfulness toolkit. There may be times in life where sitting still to do a meditation may feel like a barrier, and where using movement may more appropriately match your energy levels, allowing your mind to settle and be present.
We have already seen that posture is important in the sitting meditation and that positioning your body in certain ways can have immediate effects on your mental and emotional state – think of your mountain meditation. Being aware of your body language and what it reveals about your feelings and emotions can be so insightful.
When you practice the walking meditation or yoga, you should be on the lookout for the ways, some quite subtle, in which your perspective on your body, your thoughts, and your whole sense of self can change when you adopt different postures or focus on the sensations of walking.
This week you have choices: you can practice the walking meditation, mindful yoga or a combination of both.
For the walking meditation, try one or both of these choices:
Walking Meditation Instructions – Tara Brach (6 Minutes)
Walking Meditation: Being Fully Present – Mary Maddux (15 Minutes)
The first time you do the walking meditation, find a private place indoors where you have a little space to roam. Walking meditation is often practiced quite slowly and you may feel weird doing so in public. In time, you can modify the meditation to a more typical walking pace, which can be practiced incognito on city streets or parks.
NOTE: You can’t play the full meditation using the links above, you’ll need to use the Insight Timer app to access the full recording. I’m just sharing the links above so you know what you’re searching for. It’s easiest to find the meditations by searching the teachers name.
For yoga, try one or both of these choices:
Mindful Hatha Yoga (16 Minutes)
Gentle Yoga (25 Minutes)
If you’re doing the yoga, please listen to your body and don’t try to do any poses that may aggravate an existing injury or just do not feel right. Just sit that pose out and follow your breath instead.
NOTE: The yoga videos are accessed using Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel, rather than Insight Timer. Yoga with Adriene is another great free mindfulness resource! Hundreds of excellent and free yoga videos.