The Yogic system of meditation owes its origin to AdiGuru Shiva. Yogic meditation has passed down from Shiva to an unbroken lineage of Sidhas over countless years. In the yogic context, meditation is defined more specifically as a state of pure consciousness. Meditation is all about hopping out of the puddle of negativity and jumping into the lake of pure bliss. It is not just about stilling the mind but straightening out the knots in the consciousness.

Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga – Ashtanga Sutras

According to Patanjali, there are eight stages in the path of self-realization. They are Yama (ethical life), Niyam (self-discipline), Asana (right posture), Pranayama (control of life energies), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses from outer world), Dharna (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (state of pure consciousness). In order to reach the final stage of samadhi, you have to master each stage. Without following ethical life and self-discipline it is not possible for a person to reach the state of bliss.

Right Posture or Asana Siddhi

Right posture or Asana Siddhi is emphasized in the yogi system of meditation as a posture has a direct impact on channelizing and retaining vital energies in your body. It is only after perfecting your posture that you can advance on the path of yoga. Perfecting the posture means sitting in one position without moving for a stretch of time without feeling pain and numbness in the body.

The de rigueur of a good posture are straight spine and alignment of neck and spine. You can preferably sit cross-legged or in sukh asana on the ground but if it is not possible to sit cross-legged you can even sit on a chair. The only care you need to take is to you keep your spine and neck erect. It is better to keep hands neatly joined in your lap in sync with the natural L shape of your arms. Once you are seated relax your facial muscles and have a gentle smile. Start with 5-10 minutes of good posture meditation and then gradually increase the time limit.

Importance of Pranayama in Meditative Practices

Breathing exercises are an excellent way to calm your mind and prepare it for meditation. Breath is considered as a bridge between the body and mind in the Yogic system of meditation. Anulom Vilom or alternate nostril breathing not only helps to cleanse the respiratory system but also balance the central nervous system. Bandhas or locking of the energy flow in any part of the body is done to gain control over energy system. When the Bandha is released, more energy floods through that part of the body. Therefore, pranayama creates a preparatory ground for meditation to take place.   

Different types of Yogic Meditation  

Within the fold of Yogic meditation, there are many variations. Here are three major examples of Yogic Meditation.

Mantra Meditation

A mantra is a syllable or words grouped together like Om-Namah-Shivaya that if spoken with correct pronunciation and innotation create a particular kind of vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. The science of mantra believes that if you can use the right words to train your mind, to sharpen its focus and to channelize your energy, you can rise above every negative tendency that holds you back. You can go past the shackles of your limited conscious mind and acheive eternal bliss.

According to The Ancient Science of Mantras by Om Swami, the meditation on sound is not just about chanting a mantra but recalling that mantra gently, one after another. Recollection is different from just speaking out as it requires visualization.

Mantra Meditation

How to practice mantra meditation

  1. Sit comfortably cross-legged or on a chair with your spine and neck straight.
  2. Start chanting your mantra.  Pay special attention to the sound of your mantra.
  3. Breathe deeply for about five minutes with both nostrils.
  4. Close your eyes and mentally start recalling the mantra you just chanted.
  5. If you feel dullness you can increase the pace of recall. In case of restlessness, slow down the speed of recall.
  6. Initially, you can start with either 9, 18 or 27 rounds of mantra recitation and recall. You can use beads of a rosary to keep a count.
  7. As your awareness increases, you can increase the count to 108 and more

Generally mantra meditator requires an initiation by a Guru. But in the absence of a Guru, you can also practice this system of meditation by identifying right mantra and following science of mantra meditation.

Sound meditation or Nada yoga also follows the same principle of focusing on external sounds like calming ambient music and then mentally recalling the sound. With time practice evolves to hearing the primordial sound or para nada.

Kundalini and Chakra Meditation

Chakras are nothing but important energy junction points in your body. For thousands of years, keeping the chakras in balance has been linked to maintaining mental and physical well-being. Awakening of kundalini means piercing through your seven chakras and realizing your true nature.

The seven prime chakras in the body are Muladhara (root chakra), Swadhistana (Sacral Plexus), Manipura (Solar Plexus), Anahata (Heart plexus), Vishuddhi (throat plexus), Agya (brow plexus) and Sahasrara ( crown plexus). The seven major chakras correspond to specific aspects of your consciousness and have their own individual characteristics and functions.

Locating the Seven Chakras

To practice kundalini and chakra meditation it is imperative to fix the right location of each chakra on your spine.  As per Kundalini if you place the little finger of your hand on the navel, the seat of Manipura chakra and stretch your hand fully upwards then at the tip of your thumb would be your Anahata chakra. By placing your little finger where your thumb touched earlier and stretching the hand fully would lead you to your Vishuddhi Chakra. Another similar full hand measure would take you to Agya chakra and the last stretch to Sahasrara chakra. For the lower two chakras go back to your navel. Put your thumb on your navel, and stretch your full hand down. The tip of your little finger is now touching your Swadhishthana Chakra. Another similar stretch would let you the place of your Muladhara chakra.

Kundalini Meditation

How to practice Chakra meditation

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine and neck erect. Practice a few minutes of deep breathing before starting and completing the meditation.
  2. Also, devote some minutes of meditation on the brow chakra to normalize your energies in each sitting.
  3. You have to tackle one chakra at a time. Only after that chakra is opened that you move on to the next one.
  4. Start with Muladhara Chakra.
  5. Visualize the color of the chakra at the location of the chakra.
  6. You can alternate visualization with the chanting of chakra mantra.
  7. Build strong concentration. No awakening of kundalini can happen without building strong concentration.
  8. Consume sattvic diet while practicing kundalini meditation.
  9. Once you experience deep sensations on the chakra you are meditating on, it is time to move on to the next one.

As per Lalita Shasranama – Chakra Details

Chakra Color Mantra/Seed Syllable  
Muladhara Orange SAM
Svadishthana Yellow KAM
Manipura Red LAM
Anahata Black RAM
Vishuddhi Red Sandalwood DAM
Agya Pure White HAM
Sahasrara Clear Light or Violet YAM

Kundalini meditation is practiced a little differently in different meditation practices such. Siddha yoga, Sahaj yoga, Shaktipat yoga, Maha yoga, Shakti yoga or Kriya yoga all concentrate on the awakening of the kundalini. Hatha Yoga can also be combined while practicing kundalini meditation.

Self-inquiry and I am Meditation

Atma Vichara or self-inquiry is central to the yogic system of meditation. It is a means to investigate true nature of our existence and to find the answer to the question Who am I? This system of meditation has roots in very old Vedic texts, however, it was Ramana Maharishi who popularized it in its present form. The constant investigation into the question of who am I? can lead to peeling off layers of false ego constructs. The questioning is largely focused on enquiring whom does this thought belong to? and who am I? 

Who am I ? meditation

How to practice

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Any position will do. Yogic posture is not required.
  2. Take a few deep breaths
  3. Start the process of questioning and negation.
  4. Keep eliminating what you are not like I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not the senses, I am not a man or a woman etc
  5. When you do this regularly, you stop reacting to situations. You awake to your immensity.
  6. After you are thoroughly clear with eliminative contemplation, you can start with affirmative contemplation where you ponder on nature of your existence like I am the source, I am one that is a witness and beyond desire, I am beyond bondage or emancipation. I am pure Brahman etc.
  7. A mindful pondering over contemplative prompts can be very effective in gaining insights into your true nature.

Most of the other form of Yogic meditation practices propagated by various Gurus are a variation of these three basic kinds of meditation.