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Take a Seat

If you're not meditating, are you really doing yoga?

By Alan Reder

Quiet? Preferred but optional. When I began meditating in the mid-1970s, I lived two doors down from an auto body shop. The air hammers started at 6:30 a.m., about the time I began meditating. No problem—although the racket dominated the neighborhood, it was no louder than the noise in my head.

Will Meditation Help My Yoga?
You may already feel a sense of peace from your yoga practice. You may feel that you've already attained some of the other meditation benefits described above. There's a good reason for this: In Buddhist terms, asanas are their own type of meditation; to perform difficult postures, you have to focus awareness on your body and breath and relax into the pose. Being mindful of your body as you occupy it is a classic technique prescribed by the Buddha.

In classical yoga, too, meditation and postures go hand-in-hand. "It's actually the same thing," says Cope. "With postures, you're also training equanimity, and you're training the mind to become focused. You're using the body as the object of that focus.

"You're also training awareness," he adds. "You're conditioning the mind to scan to see how things shift, to see the ebb and flow of energy in the subtle body. These are the same skills we're training in meditation."

But not necessarily to the same degree. Often, the more profound your meditation, the more intense the yoga. Cope has experienced this firsthand. "When I'm in a meditation retreat, my practice of postures goes much deeper. My flexibility is greater. The conditioned states of the body are seen through. It's powerful."

Alan Reder is co-author of Listen to This!: Leading Musicians Recommend Their Favorite Artists and Recordings (Hyperion, 1999) and The Whole Parenting Guide (Broadway Books 1999).

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