Even if we are on isolation, we sometimes feel there is a lingering, hard-to-place noise that doesn’t stop playing. It can come like a barrage of loud sounds, but we don’t hear it—we feel it, and it haunts our thoughts.
To lessen that “noise,” there is a need to quiet the mind.
This is the goal of meditation and yoga. Devotees say the more we get better at them, the more we can learn how to control our thoughts, and thus, our emotions. And as our bodies move as one, a stronger mind begets a stronger, healthier body.
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Sky Yang, a registered yoga teacher, tells ANCX, “The immune system is directly influenced by stress. Yoga and meditation help in lowering the stress hormones, while training one’s physiology to withstand stress: ‘staying calm in the storm.’” On a physical level, the immune system is compromised by inflammation, he says. “By reducing stress hormones, yoga postures reduce inflammation, and drains the lymphatic system by removing the toxins in our body.”
Yoga is not just about postures, though, and being able to do a headstand, says Yang who teaches at Urban Ashram, one of Manila’s longest running yoga schools. He has been practicing yoga for seven years, with three of those years as a teacher.
Yoga is a multi-dimensional system, he reiterates. It doesn’t end when you leave the mat. It is a way to help one live fully. It’s learning how to stay in the present moment, and being aware of the right thing to do. It is being fully committed to life, yet unattached to the things that don’t matter.”
There are actually no tools needed in practicing yoga and meditation: “The essential tool is the will to practice,” Yang offers.
But it takes a while to form a lifestyle, and it takes discipline. Starting with meditation before moving on to yoga is advised. And so is daily meditation. Yang says a minute is all you need to kick-start a meditation habit.
“It’s not how long the meditation lasts, but it’s really about the quality of the meditation,” says the yoga teacher who suggests the step-by-step below.
First, find a quiet place to sit. You can do it anywhere, as long as you make sure that when you sit, your spine is erect.
A simple meditation guide
Start with a position called sukhasana, or a cross-legged sitting position. Lengthen your spine, and try to be as comfortable as possible.
Get a timer, so you don’t keep looking at the watch while you meditate, as this creates distraction.
When the timer starts, close your eyes. With your palms facing up, put your hands on top of your knees. Connect to your breathing. Empty your mind of any other thoughts, and just stay focused on your breathing.
Allow each cycle to lengthen gradually: Try to have longer inhales and exhales after each cycle. Don’t think about whether you’re doing it right or wrong. Do not think about the time. Just focus on how air enters and exits your body. Allow your chest and your stomach to expand as you inhale. Allow them to relax one by one as you exhale. Repeat the motion for one minute.
When you hear the sound of the alarm, keep your eyes closed. Inhale deeply until there is no longer room for more air, and exhale fully. Then, gently open your eyes.
As you progress, try to increase the time you spend on meditation. The longer you meditate, the harder it is to keep your mind from wandering off. This is where practice and skill come in.
The best thing about yoga and meditation is that you only need a small space for you to do them. “Bring a towel, wear comfy clothing, drink lots of water after the practice,” Yang reminds us. “And keep the mats clean. Yoga is not just physical exercise, it is also a spiritual practice so respect the mat, or wherever you’re practicing.” And, as if we need to remind you, disinfect.