Yoga Sutra 1:1 tells us, "Now begins the instruction on the practice of yoga."
Yoga Sutra 1:2 states, “Complete mastery over the roaming tendencies of the mind is yoga.” The mind and its roaming tendencies, or vrittis, keep us distracted with worry and negativity and chasing happiness outside of ourselves. Our happiness is within with a peaceful, still mind. "The mind can only be truly peaceful when it is at rest." We achieve this goal through meditation. This is yoga.
Here are the steps toward meditation according to the Himalayan tradition. All practice is geared towards meditation and complete mastery over the mind in order to obtain Samadhi or Bliss.
Stillness - find a comfortable seat to settle into. Head, neck and torso aligned. Physical stillness. Asanas are practiced with focus on strength in our core, pelvis, hip joints and back. These asanas strengthen us and help us become steady in our meditation seat.
Relaxed, Effortless Breathing - Diaphragmatic breathing allows us to breath calm and natural at rest and in times of excitement. There are tools with which to strengthen the diaphragm. Two such tools are Crocodile Pose (Makarasana) and Sandbag Breathing. Relaxed Effortless breathing comes from daily practice and the use of such tools. Focus is on a deep, smoth, even, constant and silent breath which benefits our mind and nervous system. This helps us turn inward for meditation.
Systematic Relaxation - There are a number of systematic relaxation audios from 5 to 15 minutes long. We lie in a reclined pose or in a restorative seated position. Scanning our body and sending prana to those areas that are strained. Daily relaxation prepares us for the hectic times in our lives along with preparation for meditation.
Breath Awareness in the Nostrils - "This is the beginning of formal concentration practice." This one pointed concentration prepares us for meditation. Nostril breathing calms us and connects our body and mind. Our focus is on the cool air of the Inhale and the warm air of the exhale.
Resting Awareness in the Sound of a Mantra - A Mantra is a word, words or vibration practiced each day. So'ham can be used by anyone but most mantras are given by a qualified teacher. Your focus on the mantra helps foster concentration necessary for meditation. You will hear the mantra in your mind effortlessly during meditation and eventually as you proceed through your day. The mind becomes one pointed on the mantra and rests focus on the mantra.
Daily meditation brings rewards in body, mind, breath, and nervous system. This practice is transformative. Meditation brings us happiness and fulfillment in about 10 to 20 minutes per day.
The Secret of the Yoga Sutra: Samadhi Pada
Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD