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Lions Roar : July 2009
43 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2009 for many Practitioners and nonpractitioners alike, yoga has been reduced to, and be- come synonymous with, the postures and movements of hatha yoga. yet for most of its history, meditation has been an essential aspect of authentic yoga practice. the word “yoga” comes from the root yuj, meaning to “yoke or to harness,” signifying both spiritual endeavor and the state of integration. Buddhism, a bona fide child of the yoga tradi- tion, offers a model of yogic theory and practice, and, like all authentic yoga, is moksha-shastra, a liberation teaching designed to free us from suffering. the Buddha instructed us to observe the breath, and gradually extend our awareness to include the whole body. he said the practitioner should be aware of the movements and positions of the body while standing, walking, sitting, lying down, bending over, or stretching. he said nothing is excluded from mindfulness, that no aspect of our lived experience lies outside of practice. in hatha yoga, when we combine awareness of breathing with asana practice, we can observe how movement and posture affects the breath, and how the breath affects the body. We become aware of habitual patterns of reactivity. for instance, do you hold your breath when reaching out with your arms into a deep stretch? do you unnecessarily tense muscles not involved with the movement you are making? do you compare one side of the body with the other? When engaged in repetitive movements, does your mind wander? the Buddha taught four foundations of mindfulness as the basis for establishing mindful- ness throughout our daily life. they are midfulness of body, feelings, mind, and dharmas. each Taking Mindfulness to the Mat Applying the Buddha’s four foundations of mindfulness to hatha yoga, says FrAnk Jude Boccio, can enrich practitioners’ experience and cultivate awareness of the unity of body and mind.