If you do a Google Image search for the words meditation and yoga, it’s almost guaranteed that the pictures will be virtually the same. That is, someone in a seated pose with their hands on their knees, fingers together, eyes closed – all against a serene backdrop.
So, it comes as no surprise that, in the Western World, meditation and yoga are often used synonymously. But, in reality, although related, the two terms are fundamentally different.
Don’t believe it? Consider the following points:
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient Sanskrit word that basically means the union between the soul and spirit. And, to cement this connection, yoga uses physical poses in conjunction with breathwork i.e. focused inhales and exhales. Yogi has plenty of benefits, including:
- Weight loss
- Stress relief
- Physical fitness
- Strengthened immune system
- An increase in energy levels
- Better posture
What is Meditation?
When you break it down to its simplest form, meditation can be considered to be an exercise for the mind. But, we’re not talking about brain games or trivia apps here.
Meditation uses breathwork to help you develop your concentration and takes you inward so that you can transcend the restless mind. In this way, it helps you look at the world (and your place in it) in a more positive light. Its benefits include:
- Stress relief
- Improved mood
- More energy
- Stronger immune system
- Decrease in high blood pressure and instances of tension-related pain like insomnia, headaches, ulcers, and joint pain
The Connection Between Yoga and Meditation
As you can see meditation and yoga offer many of the same benefits. For example, both practices help reduce stress levels, boost awareness, and increase energy levels. The main difference between the two is that yoga is a physical practice and meditation is a purely mental practice.
Those who combine meditation and yoga believe that this is an effective way to relieve stress, increase discipline, and foster mental clarity. The goal of combining such a practice is to overcome distractions so we can endure positions that can be mentally and physically uncomfortable. The ability to gain this type of focus follows us into our daily lives as well. That is, it can help us foster a sense of peace, even in the toughest circumstances.
How to Bring Balance to the Mind and Body
When we practice yoga and meditation, it helps us attain higher levels of stillness, awareness, and peace. It also helps us bring balance to the mind and the body. And, the best part is, that it’s not difficult to combine the two.
Not sure how to get started? Consider the following steps:
- Practice yoga every day. Practicing yoga daily (for about 10 to 20 minutes) will reap more benefits than doing 1 or 2 long sessions a week. Simply find a time when you won’t be interrupted, turn your phone off, and begin your practice. Also, make sure to incorporate certain poses (like Eagle pose, Dancers pose, Warrior 3, low lunge, and boat pose) to help challenge and build up your focus.
- Take some time to meditate. You can practice meditation anywhere and at any time. All you have to do is set aside a few minutes, close your eyes, and observe your breath. If some thoughts begin to arise, let them go, and return your attention to your breathing. Your goal is not to get rid of your thoughts but to acknowledge them and let them go.
- Spend some time outside. Whether it is simply going to the park, heading out for a hike, having a picnic, playing outdoor sports, or going camping, spending time outside and in nature can help increase your sense of stillness, peace, and awareness.
- Fan the flames of your passion. Take some time every day to do something that makes your soul happy. Many of us have so many responsibilities that we forget how great it feels to dance, sing, write, make music, swim, or garden.
- Preparation is key. One of the great things about yoga is that you don’t need much to get started. Essentials include a yoga mat, proper yoga clothes, like comfortable yoga capris and props like bolsters, straps, and blankets. The clothes will ensure that you are comfortable throughout your workout and the props will provide necessary support during challenging poses.
Although yoga and meditation are closely intertwined, they are distinct in their differences. However, when you combine the two, it can increase the benefits of both. So, if you are looking for a way to improve your physical fitness while gaining a profound sense of peace, try them out today. Namaste.