Overheard in Class

There's a Yoga Class for That

Meet YogaGlo

Learn & Explore Meditation

Meditation Myths

Meditate Your Weight

Hundreds of medical studies have shown the spectacular health benefits of meditation. Now Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine, puts that scientific research to good, practical use by incorporating easy-to-use, targeted meditations into a 21 day program. This program optimizes metabolism as well as body image by tapping into the hidden strength of the mind. We learn a whole new way to lose weight; and it takes just a few minutes a day.

Each day of the plan in Meditate Your Weight helps you explore and release what’s weighing you down physically, emotionally, and mentally—the mental blocks, thoughts, habits, and behaviors that stand in your way—to make it easier to think more clearly, make better choices, and maximize metabolism. As you lighten up on the inside, you’ll lighten up on the outside.

SOME MY THS ABOUT MEDITATION—AND THE TRUTH

Though  meditating  is simpler  to do than  many  be- lieve, it is also a mysterious  process—how  does  it work, exactly? Even scientists  are not  exactly sure, but they’re getting closer. That mystery sometimes causes a bit of a PR problem  for meditation,  but I’d love to clear up a few of those misunderstandings.

Myth:

“MEDITATION  IS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE .”

Truth:

MEDITATION IS, FIRST AND FOREMOST, A MENTAL PRACTICE .

Meditation  is not voodoo. Meditation  is not New Age or mystical. Yes, meditation has been used in many forms in religious traditions and cultures throughout history  and  throughout the  world—but the act of meditating  isn’t inherently spiritual.

At its core, meditation is a means of training your mind. It has direct physiological effects on the brain and nervous system that can be studied in the lab, tracked by sophisticated  fMRI brain scanners, or ana- lyzed with a blood test, stethoscope, or heart rate mon- itor. In fact, over the last twenty-five years, more than three thousand  studies on meditators  have been con- ducted at some of the most respected research institu- tions in the world, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and  the  universities  of California,  North  Carolina, and Wisconsin, among many others. The data from these  studies  is very clear: Meditation  helps  people lead healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives.

Myth:

“MEDITATION JUST DOESN’T WORK FOR ME .” OR: “I CAN’T MEDITATE .”

Truth:

MEDITATION WORKS FOR EVERYONE , AND EVERYONE CAN DO IT.

I hear it all the time: “I can’t meditate—it  just doesn’t work for me.”

Imagine  if a baby who was just learning  how to walk tried to take a step and fell down, then turned around  and said, “Sorry, Mom and Dad—this  walk- ing thing just doesn’t work for me.”

Silly, right?  But meditation is like walking—it’s an activity we learn to do in very short spurts,  then continue to practice and improve upon for the rest of our lives.

Once you’ve mastered  the basics of walking, you can go in any direction  you’d like—you can run the fifty-yard dash in gym class, you can train  for a 5k, you can become a marathoner. Or, like many people, you might just stick with basic walking to get you through  your days. But the core mechanics  involved in each of these activities is exactly the same: You put one foot in front of the other, and you move forward.

Meditation  is just  like that.  You might  just  do three  minutes  a day; you might  work up to twenty. You might fall in love with it and decide to dig deep and do a retreat. But at an elemental level, no matter where you find yourself currently,  you are a medita- tor. From the very first moment you sit, take a breath, and  notice  that  your  mind  is wandering,  you’re  al- ready doing it—you’re meditating.

Myth:

“THE REAL TYPE OF MEDITATION  IS [X]—AND IF YOU DON’T DO [X], YOU’RE NOT REALLY MEDITATING .”

Truth:

ANY TYPE OF MEDITATION  IS “REAL”;

NO ONE TYPE IS BETTER THAN ANOTHER.

When  we start  meditating,  a common  trap  is to get caught  in thinking  we have to follow a specific type of meditation.  When  I first got into meditation back in the early nineties, people were very specific about it. I heard all kinds of dictums:

•   You can’t be sitting  on a chair—you  have to sit on a cushion.

•   Your legs need to be in this position.

•   You have to have your right thumb  on top and your left thumb  on the bottom.

•   Your right heel must be in front.

•   Your spine has to be right over your pelvis.

•   You have to chant this or think about that.

All  of  these   might  be  helpful   suggestions   to you—or not. To use meditation to reach your health goals, there are truly no absolutes of this kind. What works for you is what works for you. It doesn’t matter if you do a visualization, or count your breaths, or sim- ply take a moment to close your eyes and be still while riding on the bus—all of these are just tools, and all of them  are forms of meditation.  Anytime you take a moment  to just sit there—voilà, you’re meditating.

And that’s the ultimate  goal of meditation: that, with  practice,  you will get to a level of comfort  in which you can just tip back into that same relaxed, focused mental space on the drop of a dime, anytime you notice that you’re getting stressed. By developing your meditation skills, you become able to step out of the stress loop and remain  cool, calm, and collected as often as you’d like.

If you’re drawn  to one specific method  of medi- tation,  that’s  great—stick  with  what  works for you.

Find the tool that you need and use it. But from a scientific perspective,  and for the results  we’re look- ing for in the mind and body, please know there are many “right” ways to do it.

Excerpted from MEDITATE YOUR WEIGHT: A 21-Day Retreat To Optimize Your Metabolism And Feel Great Copyright © 2016 by Tiffany Cruikshank. Published by Harmony Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Tiffany Cruikshank is the founder & visionary behind Yoga Medicine, a community of expert yoga teachers focused on fusing the best of anatomy & western medicine with the traditional practice of yoga. Tiffany’s classes have evolved over the past 20 years of teaching yoga to reflect her creativity and passion for using yoga as a form of medicine for the mind, body & spirit. With her medical background in Acupuncture & Sports Medicine, her classes are guided by a strong anatomic focus and her ability to teach a deeper understanding of complex subjects. Recognized more broadly as a health & wellness expert, Tiffany has worked with professional athletes and celebrities from around the world. She has run her own clinics and was the Acupuncturist & Yoga Teacher at the Nike World Headquarters and has been featured as an expert in numerous publications including Yoga Journal, Prevention , Self, Marie Claire, Fitness Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Fox News, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Mantra, Thrive, More Magazine, OM Yoga, YogaLife and many others. Visit Tiffany’s Website

Photo credit: Jenny Jimenez

gate keepers pose
Pose of the Week

Pose of the Week: Gatekeeper

Find a glorious stretch through your side body and hips as you move through a few stages of gatekeeper pose. A great intermediate pose that packs a lot of flexibility into your entire body.…

yoga for depression
Press

Yoga for Depression

The search for improved treatments, including non-drug based, to meet the holistic needs of patients is of paramount importance and we call for more research into yoga as a global priority," said study author P. Murali Doraiswamy at the…

david harshada wagner
Learn & Explore Meditation

The Massive Power of Drshthi

When calamities strike, big or small, local or global, personal or societal, it's disorienting. It is like a blow to the face. We get scrambled, dizzied, confused and stunned. If we don't have vision, we might be apt…