Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Replenishing the Soul through Yoga and Meditation

Yoga is a calming and meditative activity that allows for individuals to access an altered state of consciousness through elements of concentration and various body techniques. It is an activity practiced within the sanctuary of a peaceful and controlled environment, promoting participants to engage in reflection and create harmony throughout the mind, body and soul. It utilizes elements of meditation in the way that it calms the active mind and body of an individual, encouraging them to view reality as truth after their minds have been cleansed from the demanding outside world. Furthermore, it is essential for people within contemporary society to have an outlet that allows them to disengage from the busy modern world, and focus on their inner self. This can be accessed through the practice of yoga and meditation combined, allowing for an individual to access an altered state of consciousness to rejuvenate and revitalize the soul.

The Australian School of Meditation and Yoga is a centre located in the West End of Brisbane, promoting relaxation and inner peace through the wide variety of yoga and mediation classes they offer to the community. This particular school of yoga and meditation primarily targets young adults of different cultural backgrounds with its affordable prices and popular location. The Australian School of Meditation and Yoga is based within a comfortable wooden hall that is clean and tidy, decorated tastefully with lanterns and few posters representative of traditional Hindu Gods. All of the equipment required in yoga is provided for the convenience of the participants, as an experienced yoga teacher then instructs the class on what to do. Participants locate their desirable spot within the yoga hall, immediately entering a silent zone with their new focus on calming the body and bringing it into a zone of concentration. Participants are required to listen intently as they are guided by the yoga instructor. The voice of the instructor is very calm, directive yet kind and open to allow participants to feel comfortable and ask for assistance if needed. This enables participants to access an altered state of consciousness more comfortably with the option of assistance if it is needed. ‘The beautiful thing about yoga is that it’s not competitive. You work at your own pace, listening to your body, gradually encouraging it’ (The Australian School of Meditation and Yoga 2007).

The yoga and meditation experienced allows participants to relax their mind, body and soul from everyday stresses. The class is conducted in a silent group environment, which promotes individuals to collaboratively respect the atmosphere of the activity and understand people’s need to unwind from the everyday stresses of their contemporary lifestyles. As the class progresses over ninety-minutes, a deeper meaning is further developed for the individuals as they continue to combine exercise and mediation, embracing an altered state of consciousness and intensifying the altered state. This ultimately allows the individual to produce a harmonious balance throughout the mind, body and soul. Meditation is an important element of yoga and is described by the Australian School of Yoga and Meditation as the ‘spiritual essence of yoga’ (The Australian School of Meditation and Yoga 2007).

Meditation provides insights into the workings of the mind and emotions. It further helps you develop clarity and wisdom, gaining a greater understanding of life… In this consciousness a person is free from temporary worries, anxieties and concerns and is immersed in a higher spiritual happiness and inner peacefulness (The Australian School of Meditation and Yoga 2007).

Through the combined use of yoga and meditation, participants are able to focus intently on their activity, which ultimately eliminates the subconscious mind from manifesting throughout the yoga process. At the conclusion of class the participants are then instructed to lie down on their matts with closed eyes for a time of relaxed contemplation before returning back to their busy lifestyles. During this time of relaxation and contemplation the lights are dimmed and the altered state of consciousness experienced continues to deepen as the trance continues. After a while of laying down and relaxing, the class is then instructed to sit on their matts to listen to the instructor play melodic tunes on a guitar as chanting is then introduced to conclude the ritual. Participants are encouraged to join in with the chanting if they like, which finalizes the yoga class with a community feeling by bringing everyone together in a bond that they have just shared through experiencing an altered state. The entire process of the ninety-minute ritual is relaxing and riveting for the mind, body and soul. It allows an individual to exercise whilst entering a trance, not only stretching and assisting in maintaining a healthy body, but promoting a clear and harmonious outlook for an individual to see the world more clearly with a positive mindset.

As participants are then ready to leave the class with a new energy, there are refreshments provided by the Australian School of Meditation and Yoga consisting of some small cakes and water. This encourages participants to interact with one another, further enhancing the community feeling as everybody comes together to celebrate this altered state and body-healing process.
The entire process of yoga, meditation, relaxation, music and chanting brings about an individual harmony, yet also an community feeling as the ritual that is shared silently acknowledges every day stresses which are shared amongst us. It is a ritual that gives an individual strength to continue, as the healing process promotes us to move forward and work together.

Set yourself on the path to health and wellbeing. Become stronger, healthier and more flexible. Get into shape in a way that is less stressful on your body. Improve the quality of your life. Become physically and spiritually renewed through the time tested practices of the yoga lifestyle (The Australian School of Meditation and Yoga 2007).

By Arnikka de Kort

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