Yoga and meditation are closely tied. Each focuses on unity among the body, mind, spirit, and emotions through the rhythm of the breath. Both also focus on being present in the moment and letting go of worries about the past or the future.
What exactly is the connection between these two practices, and how can you get started with them? Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi, read on to learn more about meditation and yoga, the benefits they can bring to your life, and how to set up your routine.
What Is Yoga?
It may seem basic, but let’s start with an overview of what yoga is. For many of us, when we think of yoga, we picture thin people in spandex contorting their bodies into strange poses on foam mats with peaceful expressions on their faces. But the truth is that yoga can look like almost anything you need it to.
In simple terms, yoga is a system for establishing well-being in all areas of life: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. This system uses physical movement as a way of connecting with the inner self and uniting the mind, body, and spirit. This may include some specific poses and movements, but when it comes down to it, whenever you tune in and move your body in a way that makes you more connected with yourself and your body, it is yoga.
What Is Meditation?
Likewise, meditation is a practice that focuses on being present with yourself and your emotions in the moment. It may center around a focus on the breath as a way to connect with the body and block out the distractions of the world. Once you learn how to meditate, you aren’t worried about the past or the future. You are simply present in the moment without judgment.
Many people view meditation as something that only people who sit on top of mountains and take vows of silence do. But the truth is you can meditate anywhere and for any length of time. Closing your eyes and taking one intentional breath in and out is meditation.
What Is The Difference Between Yoga and Meditation?
You may already have noticed some similarities in the descriptions we gave of yoga and meditation. The truth is that the two are inextricably connected. They both focus on being present with your body in the moment, free of judgment and tuned in to your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.
Done properly, any yoga routine should be a form of meditation. You focus on your breath as a grounding constant that unites you with your body and let go of any worries outside the present moment. In both practices, you focus on quieting the distractions of the world and listening to what your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit are telling you so you can live a happier, more grounded life.
Both yoga and meditation are highly recommended for people living with anxiety. Much of anxiety arises from worrying about the past or the future. That worry can spiral into a panic that feels impossible to control.
Both help you let go of those worries and focus on your present emotional state without judgment. They teach you to focus on your breath, the constant that grounds you throughout your life. When those panic moments occur outside of your meditation or yoga time, you have the tools to let go of that anxiety and focus instead on the constant, even drag of air in and out of your lungs.
Better Emotional Health
Maintaining emotional health isn’t as easy as it sounds. It can be hard to dial in to what you’re feeling and why and to process those emotions. The first step is to spend time focusing on what it is you’re feeling, and sit with that without judgment.
Both practices give you a dedicated, guided space to process those emotions. Taking ten minutes a day to be present with yourself in that way can bring to the forefront emotions you may have been tamping down or ignoring. Once you’re aware of those feelings, you can begin to work through managing them.
It won’t come as a surprise that yoga can improve your health. A regular practice can help you become more flexible, lower your blood pressure, and help you lose weight. You’ll have better breath control and strength as well as a healthier heart.
A meditation and yoga practice can help control your health outside of your practice as well. People who practise yoga or meditation report that they’re more aware of what they eat and how it makes their bodies feel. They make better food decisions, which leads to a wide variety of health benefits.
It may sound obvious to say that yoga and meditation come with more self-awareness. After all, both practices focus on becoming more aware of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual states. This self-awareness can come with a surprising number of benefits.
Greater physical awareness can help you become aware of problems that you might not have noticed before or that would have taken you longer to notice. This can help you catch medical conditions far earlier and seek treatment when they’re much more manageable. Greater awareness of your mental and emotional states can help you build stronger relationships, maintain better mental health practices, and develop better emotional intelligence.
Better Focus and Attention Span
In our fast-paced world, it can be difficult to focus on anything for more than a few minutes. You may find yourself at work wanting to check Twitter or Facebook every five minutes. During conversations, you may catch yourself thinking about what’s on your grocery list instead of what the other person is saying.
Both meditation and yoga center around focusing all your attention on the simple but constant flow of your breath. They require tuning out distractions and centering your focus on one thing for a long period. Working out these mental “muscles” will make it easier to focus on other tasks throughout your day.
How many nights have you laid awake at night trying to get your brain to shut down and go to sleep? Have you ever had nights where you feel like you’re fighting against your body, trying to get it to drop off to sleep? Yoga and meditation can help you get to sleep faster and sleep deeper.
Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on a sleep schedule. Because yoga and meditation reduce stress, they can help you sleep easier at night. The practice of letting racing thoughts go will help you avoid those nights of lying awake trying to get your brain to quiet down.
Every day, marketers bombard us with messages about what our bodies should look like and be able to do. We should be skinnier, have more muscles, have nicer hands or feet, have bigger chests, have better butts. Over time, we can start seeing our bodies only through the lens of all these flaws.
Yoga and meditation focus on the beauty and power already contained within your body. By establishing a regular practice, you can start to see your body through the lens of what it can do and how it’s getting stronger. The sheer beauty of being able to move your body and the power that it provides carrying you through the day is a wonder to behold, and practicing either can help you develop an appreciation for that beauty.
How to Start a Routine
Starting a yoga and meditation practice doesn’t have to be a two-hour daily affair. It can be as simple as setting up a ten-minute practice in the morning or evening. You can even meditate while you’re waiting on your coffee at the local café or while you’re folding laundry.
Getting involved at a yoga studio can give you a good introduction to how to go through a yoga routine. You can take the techniques you learn and do a few minutes of stretching and mindfulness each morning or evening. You can also find guided meditation apps to help you set up a practice of mindfulness.
Start Improving Your Life Today
Practicing yoga and meditation can bring you several amazing benefits to your life. The two are inextricably connected, with the physical movement of yoga feeding into the mindful focus of meditation, and vice versa. Start with only ten minutes a day and you’ll love the difference.
If you’d like to get started on your yoga journey, come see us at London yoga studios and experience our warm and inviting community of like-minded people . We offer a variety of classes that can help you begin your journey of wellness.