Do you already have a devoted yoga routine, or perhaps you meditate daily? Did you know that linking the two can deepen your connection to each approach?
Yoga and meditation work best when done together. They strengthen the mind-body connection, thus improving overall health and wellness. Many yoga forms already combine with meditation to regulate breathing but the practice of meditation can compliment all yoga techniques.
Since yoga and meditation have many and varied physical and mental benefits, it is ideal to combine them. Once you know the benefits of each and how they work well together, you’ll never look back!
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What are Yoga and Meditation all about?
Yoga is a practice from ancient Indian philosophy that connects the mind and body. It has a 5000-year history, and there are several different types of yoga styles. It uses a combination of physical postures and breathing techniques to create the best outcome of the practice. Yoga is a spiritual practice and comes from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj,’ meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to unite.’
Meditation is a conscious-changing technique that is meant to have benefits on psychological well-being. It is a set of practices used to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention – mainly through deep breathing. It is also used to observe thoughts and feelings without judgment – mindfulness is the key outcome.
The link between Yoga and Meditation
Each one focuses on connecting the mind, body, and spirit through the rhythm of feeling emotions whilst actively practising breathwork. They encourage mindfulness and intentionally being present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. The two practices complement one another to offer you a full range of benefits.
Some examples of what they both offer are:
1. Reduced Anxiety
When speaking to people who partake in these practices, the most common similarity between them is generally about mental health related to anxiety. Yoga and meditation are highly recommended for people living with mental health problems. Anxiety stems from fear and worry related to the past and future. Meditation helps you get past those concerns and immerse yourself in the present moment. When stressful situations arise in your life, it provides you with tools like breathwork to get through those moments. At the same time, yoga reminds you to centre back to your core whilst the physical nature of the practice releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the brain and body.
2. Improved Emotional Health
Emotional wellness can be a tricky one. It requires an active and engaged awareness of your thoughts and feelings to maintain. Without this you will not be able to process your emotions fully. Left unresolved this can lead to poor emotional health, disrupting your life and relationships.
Yoga and meditation give you a safe, dedicated space to feel and process those emotions. Yoga pushes you to focus on your strength to help yourself through challenging moments. Being present with yourself during meditation allows you to embrace your feelings and learn how to manage them.
3. Better General Health
You are probably aware that most fitness practices are good for health; therefore, exercise comes highly recommended by health professionals. People who do yoga and meditation are likely to be more conscious of what they eat and how they take care of their bodies. The techniques bring mindfulness in eating and using that to make better food choices leads to an array of health benefits. Meditation can help you reframe your brain to release any negative emotions around eating. Yoga and all its positions remind you that you need to be healthy to support the strength building element of the practice which is so key to its success.
4. An Improvement in Self-Awareness
By their very nature, yoga and meditation bring on an increased sense of self-awareness. An excellent physical and mental awareness can help you realise things in your life that you might have been unaware of previously. They can allow you to pick up on conditions and seek treatment much earlier than you would have without it. When doing certain yoga techniques, you can easily become aware of your body needs, where you have strengths and which parts might be more vulnerable. Meditation alongside that will help you prolong that awareness and hold firm when working to develop areas of weakness feels like a challenge.
5. Greater Focus and Increased Attention Span
The world around us places ever increasing demands on our time and attention. We live busy lives in a fast-paced, achievement driven society. With electronic devices sending us updates and notifications wherever we are, it can be difficult not to become caught up in a social media hopping and post-swiping frenzy.
Yoga and meditation help centre your mind and body in the present. Focus on breathing during meditation helps keep bringing your attention back rather than drifting off thinking about your shopping list or kids’ homework. It becomes a natural practice, and muscle memory from yoga practice makes it easier to pay attention to daily tasks throughout your day.
6. Better Quality Sleep
Stress, anxiety, and overthinking can wreck your sleep schedule. Yoga and meditation naturally reduce stress, yoga by releasing endorphins, and meditation by relaxing your mind. They can help you sleep better at night by helping you calm your nerves and switch off your overactive brain.
7. Higher Self-Esteem
Today, with the media bombarding us with how we should look, what we can and can’t do, and what is seen as acceptable, it can be very difficult to practice self-acceptance. We see ourselves through the lenses of others, and we become attached to our flaws.
When you do yoga and meditation practices, it helps you tune in to the beauty and power that you already have within you. Regular exercise, including yoga fitness, can make you aware of what your body is capable of and meditation supports it by powering the mind. You notice yourself getting stronger mentally and physically and builds confidence, resilience, self-love, and higher self-esteem.
Why do both practices belong together?
Many people who do yoga would say that meditation is a part of it. That is true on some level, e.g., kundalini yoga and certain forms of hatha yoga include meditation. But many yoga disciplines or classes can be more about the physicality of the practice rather than about blending it with a calmly meditative experience. Joining the two together, either by doing them simultaneously or doing one immediately after the other, can make a significant difference.
Yoga and meditation work together in synergy to mutually benefit and enhance each other. Meditation in yoga is everything. The poses work on the body while the breathing works on the mind. You get to spend time with just you and your thoughts, consciously making an effort to concentrate on only one thing.
Both yoga and meditation are indeed pathways to a better self but together they can truly connect you with your higher self and live life more meaningfully. Together, they awaken your true potential.
Yoga uses a discipline called pranayama to focus on the breath. By keeping a consistent meditation practice, you can prepare your mind and body for the breathwork during yoga poses to build focus and concentration through every flow. The skills you gain can help you stay balanced on your yoga mat.
There are eight limbs of yoga, the first two concentrating on your ethical standards, sense of integrity and self discipline. Following a meditative practice, allowing you to pay better attention to your needs and self, heightens the connection to these inner guidelines and allows you to conduct your daily tasks more mindfully.
The seventh limb of yoga is called dhyana (meditation) and follows from the sixth which is concentration. Therefore, in a natural cycle, yoga also prepares you for the state of meditation.
Is one practice better than the other?
Meditation is heavily connected to yoga, and many people who do regular yoga sessions naturally explore meditation. However, yoga does require more physical activity, whereas meditation can be practised with no movement at all.
Both practices can certainly be undertaken independently, particularly if there are certain physical limitations which might make yoga less of a possibility. Neither system lacks anything.
The suggestion of using both together is due to the recent understanding and acceptance that our physical and mental health are inextricably linked. Yoga, brought into the mainstream fitness industry as a way to keep you fit and healthy, does not need to be detached from its ability to support mental wellbeing. Similarly, meditation as a grounding, relaxing technique can enhance your connection to physical health.
It is recommended that for fulfilled wellbeing, both techniques be explored to their full potential.
We all run the risk of over working our minds with the constant demands of life and the constant stimulation of technology. Similarly, our bodies are not indestructible. That is why combining both yoga and meditation is a good option. Our mind-body connection requires extra care and attention to live a well-balanced life.
Incorporating both yoga and meditation into your lifestyle will enhance your ability to connect with your mental and physical wellbeing and actively empower and enable you to make adjustments and improvements to live a better, more fulfilled life.
My Supplement Recommendations
These are products that I currently use and enthusiastically recommend:
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Collagen – Edible Health Bovine Collagen. This excellent bovine collagen powder is completely tasteless and absorbs quickly into any liquid. It’s third-party lab tested and provides 13g of collagen per serving. Read my review.
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