Movement is what defines Yoga asana, yet its purpose is to bring about stillness. When you move your body in the right ways, you can grow comfortable enough in it to sit for meditation. Making time for the stillness of meditation is how you will learn to master the impulses of your mind and meet the wonders of the world within.
Some poses are designed to cultivate that stillness directly. Siddhasana, or accomplished pose, is one. Add this pose to the beginning or end of your practice (and include the mudra and mantra we’ve outlined below) and you’ll discover Yoga’s true beauty – connecting with the divine within.
Pranayama for deeper meditation
Pranayama is one of the most powerful limbs of Yoga, which is why students in our Yoga teacher training begin their personal practice with it each day. When you combine Yoga asana with pranayama, mudra and meditation, your practice will open in new and profound ways. Siddhasana sets you up for a practice that includes these additional limbs by directing your energy inward.
We recommend working with an experienced teacher to learn most forms of pranayama, but we have a few simple ones that you can learn by reading. We have free tutorials on bhramari and nadi shodhana, or simply do the udgeeta pranayama, which is a simple, repeated chant of the mantra “om.”
Chant the om mantra out loud or repeat it silently in your mind (many say the latter is 1,000 times more powerful). Either way, allow the vibration to move from your tailbone all the way up your spine to the top of your skull. This pranayama gives your mind a point of focus so you can cultivate the calm you need to see beyond the boundaries of body or mind. Come here often, and make friends with the God of your heart.
Here at Hale Pule, we talk about asana with three designations: essence, anchor and strength. This is a simple tool to remember the intention of the pose, where your body is grounded and the muscles you engage for proper alignment. These components will support optimal energy flow and a sustainable practice throughout your life.
Siddhasana (and udgeeta pranayama) from the ground up
1. Start by sitting on your mat. Use pillows or blankets as needed to get your hip joints in line with or slightly above your knees. Siddhasana supports the balance of the masculine and feminine energies, so if you are a woman, bend your right knee and bring your right heel toward you (men: begin with your left leg). Your heel should be in line with the midline of your body as close to your pelvis as possible.
2. Bend your other knee and stack your ankles on top of one another. Your top anklebone will sit in the notch between the anklebone and achilles tendon of your lower leg. Tuck the toes of your top leg between your thigh and calf of your lower leg and extend your spine. Place your hands in jnana mudra by connecting the tips of your index fingers with the tips of your thumbs and extending your other fingers. Rest the tops of your hands on your knees and extend your arms.
3. To practice the udgeet pranayama, close your eyes and inhale slowly and calmly. As you exhale, begin the chant of om, moving through each of the three sounds (a-u-m) slowly, placing your attention at the base of your spine and allowing the vibration to move upward to your crown with the “m.” Practice 3, 6 or 11 rounds. Sit in meditation for a few minutes when you are finished and say hello to your sahasrara chakra (crown) and higher self.
We can’t emphasize it enough: sit on as many props as you need to bring your hips above your knees. Progress comes only when you accept your starting point and move from there.
If it is uncomfortable to bring one foot on top of the other, simply place the second foot on the floor in front of the “bottom” foot. You can also sit in sukhasana, or easy pose, which is sitting with comfortably crossed legs.
Common trouble spots
Curved back. Your spine should be comfortably upright. Often, adding more pillows beneath you will address the issue, but if the muscles along your spine are overstretched from hunching, try sitting against a wall to support you while you retrain them.
Bent neck. Keep your head in line with your spine (line up the bottom of the earlobe in line with the middle of your shoulder). This is good training if you tend to have a forward head position.
Knees too high. Props are here to help you start where you are. Sit on enough pillows so your hips are in line with or slightly higher than your knees.
Collapsed chest. Enter meditation with an open heart. Extend through your collarbones to broaden your chest.