There are three interrelated components of Hatha yoga that practitioners use as they practice their yoga exercises: pranayam or the breathing techniques, asanas or bodily postures and dhyana or meditation. There is a great deal of focus on the first two as they are critical in performing the basic exercises and techniques within Hatha yoga; however, meditation should not be overlooked as you incorporate yoga into your daily exercises.
The art of mediation is traditionally used as a way to either relax or focus the mind, to reach a deeper sense of awareness or consciousness. There are many different types of mediation and just as many ways that people practice meditative techniques. While performing yoga, it is possible to utilize the postures and breathing aspects to focus the mind and practice dhyana.
While Hatha yoga is a powerful tool to achieving greater strength and flexibility, and the physical aspects are very important, the mental aspects of meditation should not be overlooked. Many people believe that mediation is simply sitting still and being quiet, but in fact it is much more and relies on properly focusing the mind for a greater awareness of the harmony and union of the body and consciousness. You are able to “quiet” the mind to better focus your energy and attention inward. During the very physical components of yoga you can better allow your mind to achieve this focus and strength.
Consider the postures and breathing techniques during yoga as tools to help attain a meditative state. You can focus on your breathing and concentrate on the movement of your breath. You are able to visualize an image and focus your mind and awareness to the center of your body. As your body attains balance and the postures strengthen your focus, your breathing is regulated and calmed and your mind can achieve a meditative state where you are focused and aware. With practice and repetition you can direct the quality of your thought and promote the powerful and positive aspects of your mind.