Meditation and Yoga Warm Up Exercises

In the previous article (Easy Ways to Relieve Stress and Tension: Interweaving, 11/15/2010), we discussed the interweaving of meditative physical, mental  and religious/spiritual exercises into your day to create a momentum of peace. Such activities make both meditation and stress relief much easier in the long run. Now, we’ll learn some meditation and yoga warm up exercises for the purpose of “tuning” and preparing the mind and body for a formal meditation session.

There is a path of contemplative Christianity which uses a “Stepladder to Heaven” to prepare the mind and body for meditation. The stepladder begins with reading the Bible and contemplating its contents. This is the beginning of a process that a Christian can use to prepare oneself for a state of deep loving communion.

Qigong practices often include the limbering of joints and the spine along with self massage, soft flowing movements and other techniques. All these things prepare the practitioner for a meditative state.

Hatha Yoga, the physical yoga that you learn in commercial yoga studios, is at least partially designed as a meditation warm up. Pantanjali wrote in his Yoga Sutras that meditation is the seventh limb of the eight limbs of yoga. Anything short of deep meditation lays a foundation for meditation and samadhi, the eight limb of Yoga. Samadhi is the epitome of meditation in which the meditator experiences the pure love and joy of being and quite often “disappears”.

One method that seems to work best is to begin with physical exercises. This is because the body is a grosser level of energy than the emotions, intellect and subtle energy circuitry. The art of being present with a meditation object is progressive. You are being present with deeper and deeper levels of subtlety as time goes on. This seems to be the reason that progressing from physical warm up exercises toward more subtle activities works well as a warm up strategy.

I often begin with stretches, head rolls, brisk body wiping and shoulder rolls. Then, I move on to more subtle things such as chant or dynamic breathing exercises. After this, if I am engaged in any dynamic movement or breathing, I change the pace to something slower and meditative. The warm up session culminates in deep, slow breathing. Then, I’m ready to meditate.

If you are just beginning with mind body techniques, the previous paragraph probably does not make much sense. Just remember to look for activities involving muscles, nature, emotions, intellect, imagination, energy and breath. Muscle and soft tissue exercises can be as simple as head rolls, shoulder rolls and a few stretches. You can sing a peaceful or devotional song to take care of the emotions or pray for the happiness of self and others. The intellect is covered through the pondering of spiritual concepts and by reading scripture. For nature, you can connect with your favorite natural environment either physically or via visualization (which covers the imagination). End your routine with some deep, slow breathing.

If you have only 10 minutes for your daily meditation practice, just pick a couple warm up exercises and do them for five minutes. Then, do your meditation.

We’ll learn some more specific meditation and yoga warm up exercises in future articles. Stay tuned.

Tom Von Deck is an international corporate meditation trainer, stress management speaker and author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course. You can sneak preview the first half of the book and get free guided meditation mp3s at Tom’s website, www.DeeperMeditation.net.

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