Quiet Sitting: Nine Different Types of Meditation

There are many, many different types of meditation practices. When you google “types of meditation” the results can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure what you’re looking for or what you like. This is a paired down list of popular meditation types. The most popular type of meditation in recent history is mindfulness meditation with it’s many health benefits.

Nine Meditation Types For Beginners

Mindfulness Meditation

Since mindfulness meditation is the most popular meditation practice today I’ve put it in the number one spot. You’ve probably heard of it before, but may not know what it is or how it is different from other meditation practices. Mindfulness meditation is simply paying attention to the present moment and being aware of all the sensations, thoughts, etc. that arise without judgement or attachment. Here is a cool video from Jon Kabat Zinn about how a mindfulness meditation practice lights up different parts of the brain and here is a link to get you started with a mindfulness practice.

 

2. Transcendental Meditationmeditation types beginners

Transcendental meditation doesn’t seem to be as popular today as it was in the past, but there is still a substantial community worldwide. Transcendental meditation was made popular by the Beatles who learned the technique from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental meditation (TM) has it’s roots in religion and involves mantra (sound) repetition for 15-20 minutes twice daily. Transcendental meditation teachers are required to undergo a certified training before they can teach and share the practice and students are initiated into the practice.

Much research has been done on the technique, but the research has been poorly conducted and unfortunately is of little scientific value. But honestly, any form of meditation is likely to create positive changes in your life, so why not try TM.

3. Mantra & Japa

Similar to Transcendental Meditation, mantra and japa meditation involve the repetition of a mantra, sound or divine name. This type of meditation practice is often practiced with a mala. A mala is a necklace, similar to a rosary, with 108 beads on it. The mantra is repeated 108 times either softly spoken or internally repeated. This type of ancient meditation practice is used in many different religious traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

homemade-mala-diy

A handmade green sandalwood meditation mala.

4. Guided Meditation: Chakras, Third Eye, Breath, Journey & More

Guided meditations are wonderful for those who need a bit more guidance and whose minds tend to wander off. Guided meditations can focus on visuals, energetics, sounds, the breath, emotional states and much more. There are many apps you can use on your phone or ipad. Choose your length of practice, the teacher, the focus and get started.

yoga-chakras

5. Trataka Meditation (also spelled tratak)

Trataka is a form of meditation where one focuses the eyes on one point. Very commonly trataka is performed while gazing at a candle flame. Eventually you may want to close the eyes. When the eyes are closed envision the candle flame in all of it’s detail. Hold this vision of the flame as long as you can and when it dissipates you may end your meditation practice. Slowly open your eyes. Don’t look directly at the flame again right after your meditation. You may need eye drops if the eyes feel dry or strained.

6. Focused Attention- Zazen, Breath, Mantra, etc.

In focused attention meditation the mind is focused on one thing; that one thing could be the breath, sensation in the body, a mantra, an object, etc. The attention is held on this one thing. As thoughts come up, and they will, the mind’s focus is guided back to it’s original point of focus.

7. Metta- Loving Kindness

Metta, or loving kindness, meditation is a practice of sending love to oneself, a good friend, a neutral person, a difficult person, all four of them equally and then eventually to the entire universe. This exercise is excellent for cultivating compassion. Here is a Loving Kindness Meditation with Jack Kornfield.

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Loving kindness meditation is kind of like a hug for the soul.

8. Vipassana

Vipassana often begins with awareness on the breath and then moves to a practice that includes noting external stimuli without becoming attached to the source of the stimuli. An example could be if you hear a motorcycle drive by label it “hearing”, not motorcycle or if you notice a sour taste in your mouth instead of labeling it sour note it as “taste”. Noting the sense that recognized the external stimuli. It is very common to attend vipassana retreats where one has the opportunity to delve deep into a meditation practice.

9. Yoga Nidra

I hesitate to include yoga nidra on this list because I don’t necessarily consider it a meditation practice. Yoga nidra is “yogic sleep” and it is a way to access the unconscious and subconscious mind. It is a guided practice, similar to that of a guided meditation. Yoga nidra induces a state of deep relaxation and yoga nidra has a multitude of benefits. Here are 8 Benefits of Yoga Nidra.

relaxation-meditation-yoga-nidra

Not sure where to start? Google your local community and see what’s available. You might be surprised to find local meditation groups and meditation teachers that would be more than happy to take you under their wing. Another option is to go on a yoga and meditation retreat. On retreat you’ll often go over the basics of meditation and gradually increase time throughout the week and you’ll have an opportunity to talk to others and share experiences.

Good luck on your meditation practice. Feel free to shoot me a private message if you have any questions via our contact form.

Love and Light,

Autumn

What is Dinacharya?

What is dinacharya?

Dinacharya is the daily ritual to live a healthy and balanced life according to the ancient tradition of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is yoga’s sister science. The two traditions have been practiced side-by-side for thousands of years. Yoga supports many of the functions of Ayurveda and Ayurveda supports many of the functions of yoga, so the two are often intertwined.

Most humans, especially in the United States, don’t have time to practice the full dinacharya practice… it’s just not practical with jobs, kids, etc. I’d rather not bore you with too much information, so here is a list of a fairly attainable morning practice of dinacharya…. but it’s still 13 items!!! Okay, but lets be honest you most likely at least do 5 of them already without thinking about it.

Sunset meditation

1. Rise early before the sun.

 

I’m not going to lie the morning hours are beautiful and peaceful, but I am kapha and getting out of bed in the morning is often the hardest part of my day. No joke. At least one day a week though I wake up before 5:00 am and I’m probably better for it.All my kaphas out there…. you understand how hard it is to get out of bed early (early I mean 6-7 am), but if you can stomach it just try to get up at 4:30 am or even 5 am before the first kapha cycle of day begins (first cycle: 6-10am; second cycle 6-10pm). According to Dr. Vasant Lad, the leading Ayurvedic doctor in the United States, “It is good to wake up before the sun rises, when there are loving (sattvic) qualities in nature that bring peace of mind and freshness to the senses. Sunrise varies according to the seasons, but on average vata people should get up about 6 a.m., pitta people by 5.30 a.m., and kapha by 4.30 a.m. Right after waking, look at your hands for a few moments, then gently move them over your face and chest down to the waist. This cleans the aura.”

2. Drink a large glass of warm lemon water.

Well this one is easy. Slice up a lemon and squeeze it into some warm water. Drink your lemon water before anything else goes in your body (including coffee). Warm lemon water helps jump start your metabolism and digestion and also flushes the kidneys.

3. Wash face and clear out sinuses with neti pot.

Likely you already wash your face in the morning, but using a neti pot might be new to you. To be honest I don’t neti pot everyday, but I do use it when I feel congested, when I am experiencing allergy symptoms, or suspect that I might be getting sick. I also will use my neti pot if I plan on having an extensive pranayama session. Want to try out using a neti pot? Watch this Web MD video first (also, please feel free to contact me if you have questions).

4. Scrape tongue.

Yep, give it a good scrape before you brush your teeth. The build up of ama (toxins) in the body is what causes that white filmy layer on the tongue. The practice of tongue scraping takes just a couple of seconds and helps improve overall oral health. You can purchase tongue scrapers at most natural food stores like Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.

5. Brush teeth.

Brush your teeth. Please tell me you’re already doing this!

6. Evacuate your bowels.

It’s time to go number 2. The warm lemon water should assist with emptying your bowels. In a perfect world you would relieve yourself within one hour of getting out of bed. When we are unable to evacuate our bowels a build up of toxins within the body can occur. Anyone else get headaches when the plumbing isn’t working right? I do… and it’s terrible. If the whole morning routine is new to you it may take a couple of days to get into the rhythm. Don’t stress.

7. 10-20 minutes of yoga.

Once you’ve had your bowel movement begin your yoga practice. A few simple stretches and movements to the body can help “clear out the cobwebs” that built up overnight and improve mood and overall wellbeing.

8. 5-10 minutes of pranayama or breathing exercises.

A very simple pranayama exercise would be 1:1 ratio breathing. An example would be inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts. Another option would be to practice nadi shodana (alternate nostril breathing). If you will be venturing into more stimulating/challenging pranayama exercises please consult with your yoga/pranayama teacher. You may even want to consult with your doctor.

9. 5-15 minutes of meditation.

I recommend practicing meditation seated and not lying down. Find a comfortable seat in a comfortable quiet place. A simple meditation would be to follow the breath as it flows in and out of your body. There are also plenty of meditation apps that you can use for a guided practice.

10. 5-10 minute abhyanga.

Abhyanga, the self massage, is the best part of dinacharya. Use a warmed sesame or coconut oil and massage the limbs in long strokes, the joints and abdomen in circular strokes. Don’t forget your back, scalp and face. (I have sensitive skin, so I use a different blend on my face than on my body.)

11. 10-20 minute oil pulling.

Oil pulling might take a little time to get used to. Oil pulling clears out any residual bacterial buildup in the mouth. It improves breath and overall dental health. Use a tablespoon or so of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes. Spit it out when you’re finished. Do not swallow the oil. You can oil pull while you’re doing your self massage or while showering to save time.

12. Shower or bathe.

Yep, hop in the shower or bath and you’re good to go.

13. Eat breakfast.

Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast.

I’d love to hear about your morning ritual. What do you do to make sure your day gets started on the right foot?

Love and Light,

Autumn

 

18 Tips to Freshen Up Your Yoga Practice

vinyasa-yoga-greece-retreat

What happens when you get bored with your yoga practice? I know that it happens to me. When I fall off the yoga wagon, especially as a yoga teacher, I begin to have feelings of guilt sneak in. Feelings of “I’m not good enough” or “How can I teach yoga if I’m not practicing?” So I want you to know that I’ve been there. I feel your frustration, your dismay, your guilt… I’m here to tell you to “let it go”. I’m not going to tell you to stop practicing, but I will encourage you to let your yoga practice take on a different form. Here are my tried and true tips for getting over your boredom and feeling good about your yoga practice again.

  1. Take class with a different teacher. I might get some flack here from other yoga instructors for saying this, but it’s okay to explore. It’s okay to skip your regular class and drop-in to another teacher’s class. Each teacher has their own style, their own way of cueing, and their own way of formatting their classes…. going to another teacher’s class gets you out of your rut and out of autopilot. You will likely experience different poses (woohoo!) and different benefits and alignment cues that you can bring back to your regular classes. And hell we all suffer from avidya (ignorance), which means that our own teacher can give us the same message every class and we may not be ready for it, so we don’t hear it… well you might be ready for it in another teacher’s class… or they may word it in a way that it is more relatable to you.
  2. Incorporate more pranayama, meditation and chanting. For most of us, myself included, we get stuck in asana land. I love asana land! It’s fun and pretty and challenging, but sometimes we forget about the other parts of yoga like pranayama, meditation, chanting. Learn some new pranayama (kapalabhati, brahmari, sitali, ratio breathing, etc.). Kick start your meditation practice. There are so many meditation resources out their now (including apps that make it ridiculously easy to practice). Or delve into the world of Bhakti and learn a new chant or two.
  3. Go on a retreat. Attending a yoga retreat (or teacher training) is a great way to get your asana in gear! It’s okay to spend a little extra money on YOU, on YOUR development, on YOUR growth. Don’t feel guilty about it. Go on a retreat with your favorite teacher OR one you’ve been following on social media OR be bold and courageous and book with someone you find online in a destination you’ve always wanted to check out (I would recommend doing some homework before you hand over your hard earned cash though).
  4. Try a new-to-you style of yoga. If you always practice Bikram, try vinyasa. If you always practice vinyasa, try yin. Maybe delve into the world of Ashtanga Yoga… why not? Be adventurous in your yoga practice.
  5. Change your environment. If you always practice in a yoga studio head on over to the local gym and try one of their classes. Or find an outdoor class at a local park or lodge. Seek out SUP yoga (yoga on stand up paddleboards)… you’ll get an awesome work out, be challenged in new ways and likely you’ll get wet… at least at your first class.
  6. Schedule up some yoga playtime. Connect with one of your yoga buddies and schedule some time to just play… maybe play with a little Acro yoga or partner poses or help each other work on those inversions and arm balances. Likely you’ll have fun in the process and make/keep a good friend too.
  7. Karma yoga. Okay it’s not asana, but it’s equally important. Find a volunteer gig at a local community center, teach a yoga class for underprivileged kids… even better get your yoga buddies together and do a little karma yoga as a group.
  8. Find another hobby. Eek! I know I said it, but it’s okay to branch out. I would recommend finding another active hobby like mountain biking or tennis… something that gets your body moving. Being active in other ways will make you appreciate your yoga practice that much more… especially when your muscles start to get tight and that range of motion you used to take for granted is gone.
  9. Read a yoga-ish book. I recommend How Yoga Works by Gesne Michael Roach and Christie McNally
  10. Take a trip. Allow yourself to be inspired by giant trees, mountains, lakes and even the hustle and bustle of a new city. Strike a pose and have fun with it. Put your feet in the dirt. Swim out to that tiny island in the lake. Enjoy the sun on your skin.
  11. Get a new mat or yoga leggings. I know, I know. Not very yogic of me, but whatever. Buy yourself something nice. Get a new Manduka mat in a fun color or get those wild and crazy patterned Liquido leggings you’ve been eye-ing forever. Give yourself a little extra incentive to get on your mat.
  12. Change your playlist. Okay this only applies if you practice at home, but music can have a huge impact on your practice and your mental state.
  13. Sign up for one of the online yoga class platforms. Create a home practice, try new teachers, practice when it works for you. Love it.
  14. Join a social media yoga challenge. A fun way to connect with other yogis, see new postures and new variations of familiar postures. Have fun with it.
  15. Focus on a specific body part or type of pose. Perhaps strengthening or lengthening the hamstrings. Focus on backbends or inversions. Perhaps focus on opening up your hips. You get the picture. Give yourself something to explore and also something to work toward.
  16. Schedule up a yoga and wine night with your friends. Why not? Yoga doesn’t have to be in the studio to be wonderful. Take turns teaching and follow it up with a glass or two of wine and some snacks.
  17. Practice shorter practices. Set a timer and allow yourself to be present on your mat for 5, 10, 20 minutes. Keep it simple so you don’t get discouraged.
  18. Go on a weekend yoga getaway. There are so many options these days. Go to a festival, conference, workshop or retreat in a different city or state. You’ll have the opportunity to get your practice back on track, explore a new place and make new yoga friends.

 

You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to practice 5 times a week. It’s okay to be inspired by other things. Your practice will always be with you. Know that your practice doesn’t need to look like everyone else’s practice. Remember it is YOUR PRACTICE. It is yours and yours alone AND it is a practice. Don’t beat up on yourself. Dig deep find that inner fire. It’s there. We will see you on your mat when you’re ready.

Yogis do you have any other tips or tricks you use when you get bored with your yoga practice? I’d love to hear them.

 

Love and Light,

Autumn

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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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Quick Tips for Stress Reduction

yoga-meditation-retreat

Stress is so pervasive in today’s world. Just about every person I meet is struggling with stress and stress management. We have so many demands placed on us daily and in our strive for perfection, for climbing to the top we forget to slow down, to get off of our computers and take time for relaxation. Sometimes as a yoga instructor I feel like I’m expected to be perfect, to have my shit together, when really there are some days where I am literally just hanging on by a thread…. just like everyone else. Sometimes I forget to practice what I preach, so maybe that’s why I am writing this blog post. To remind myself that reducing stress can be utterly simple… it’s just a matter of using the tools we’ve been given.

The physiological signs of stress are the same for everyone: increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and constricts peripheral blood vessels. How it outwardly manifests varies from person to person. Some react to stressful situations with an overexcited stress response characterized by being quick to become fired up or by being quick to express agitation or anger. Others may react with an under-excited stress response characterized by depression or by shutting down in stressful situations. Your “typical” stress response will determine what kind of activities you need to truly reduce stress. Those with overexcited stress responses will need activities that are quieter, while those with under-active stress responses will need more stimulating exercises.

Maintained high levels of stress are associated with all sorts of health problems including, but not limited to: obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma. High levels of stress may also lead to adrenal fatigue, accelerated aging and premature death. If stress management isn’t part of your daily routine now may be the time to start.

The following is a short list of activities for stress management.

  1. Focus on your breath. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Become aware of the quality of your breath and the texture of your breath. Begin to lengthen your breath. Inhale for a count of 4 or 5 and exhale for a count of 4 or 5 and allow the breath to deepen without strain. If you find it hard to focus on your breath place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Witness the breath for 3-5 minutes. Notice how you feel afterward.
  2. Move your body. Go for a walk. Practice a few yoga postures (1/2 sun salutations or more) in which you can connect breath with movement.
  3. Get some fresh air. Eat your lunch outside. Leave your phone in the office. Take a walk around the block. Go for a hike/bike ride before or after work.
  4. De-clutter your workspace. Having a clean workspace means you aren’t wasting time shifting things around on your desk. It also means that those pesky tasks that are piling up won’t be staring you in the face.
  5. On the same note. Get organized… perhaps even hire someone to help you become organized. Time management is a huge part of stress management. You’ll be able to spend more time doing the important tasks and less time doing the menial tasks.
  6. Reach out to a calm friend that is also a good listener and enjoy a little face time…. real face time, not the cell phone version.
  7. Make time for meditation. Any type of meditation. There are plenty of apps that you can use if you’d like a guided meditation. Some option are listed here in my meditation blog post. You don’t need to meditate for 20 minutes or an hour. Start with 5 minutes and work from there. Taking just a few minutes a day for quiet meditation is proven to work wonders.
  8. Yoga nidra is another technique that can be used for stress management. There are many recorded classes on YouTube of varying quality and length, I have a downloadable yoga nidra on offer for those that subscribe to my newsletter. You may also find that some of the local yoga studios and wellness centers offer live guided yoga nidras.
  9. Massage. The power of touch is phenomenal. Whether you visit a professional for a massage or give yourself a 5 minute massage you will feel much more relaxed afterward.
  10. Drop into a yoga class. A good class will include plenty of movement, breath work, meditation and also time for rest.

Resources:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/stress-management-approaches-for-preventing-and-reducing-stress

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm

37 Stress Management Tips from the Experts

Autumn Adams
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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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The Magic of Meditation

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Hey yogis,

I’m writing here from the highlands of Nicaragua. It’s another beautiful, crisp morning and the perfect temperature for a meditation and solo yoga practice. I don’t know about you, but my newsfeed has been blowing up about recent studies done on the practice of meditation. I love that scientists are taking a look at this ancient practice and giving it the credit it deserves.

If you’re new to meditation I would recommend starting with a simple meditation like following the breath as it flows in and out. Also, start with a smaller amount of time. Don’t expect to meditate for 45 minutes right out of the gate. Start with about 5 minutes of quiet sitting with focus on the breath.

Curious about all of the studies done on meditation recently? Here are a few links.

And these are my favorite meditation apps:

If you have a favorite meditation app or have recently read an article about meditation I’d love to hear about it. And if you’re new to meditation I’d love to hear about how your practice is going.

 

Love and Light,

Autumn

Autumn Adams
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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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