Through following this series I hope you have seen the interconnectedness of each limb. Especially for this limb we can see that one must build off another. The lucky number seven of the ashtanga practice is dhyana meaning “meditation.” Dhyana cannot be completed without dharana (concentration). Essentially, concentration becomes meditation when the soul is attracted and connected to the topic. Anyone can concentrate on something without being emotionally invested, but meditation is the elaboration of the commitment to concentration.
Notice that dhyana’s meaning is solely “meditation.” It is not meditation on anything in particular; that meditation is up to you. You decide your meditative path. To more plainly state this, meditating in yoga does NOT mean that you are meditating on Hindu gods or even the devil as some may argue.
I covered this idea of meditation and prayer in a previous blog post that you can view here. I also refer to the Catechism teaching on meditation. Basically, prayer and meditation are very similar but not the same thing. In prayer, we invoke the aid and presence of God through words, action, or silence. In meditation in the context of what I am discussing here, we focus and devote our attention for our own spirituality.
Catholics are encouraged to meditate because in meditation our focus is any relation to the three forms of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Meditating on the mysteries of the rosary are a powerful example of Catholic meditation. Mama Mary said that anyone who devotes their full attention to an intention while praying the rosary, she will intercede. We can meditate on the Stations of the Cross which is usually practiced around Good Friday. There is a great video that you can view here on the 4 Cs of Christian meditation. In Father Bartunek’s beliefs, the most effective way to meditation is Concentrate (sound familiar?), Consider, Converse , and Commit. Meditation is not just for our Eastern brothers and sisters, it is our Catholic calling.
In the same way, many people have tried to adapt yoga poses to a Christian meditation basis so that they feel justified to practice yoga. Many yoga classes in the Western world do not have a defined religious or spiritual affiliation unless otherwise noted. Yoga invites everyone. It is up to the practitioner to bring their beliefs into their own practice. Yoga teachers are willing to help you on whatever journey you are on whether that is with themselves or someone else. Most yoga teachers will not share their affiliation inside the yoga class because the class is not for us, it is for you, the student, and your purpose.
If you believe that you need someone to lead you more in depth with the spirituality you would like to see in your yoga class then by all means take that class over another. Adaptation is wonderful but unjustified condemnation is not.
Peace and Namaste,