Both yoga and meditation can benefit us. Whether you need some mental stability or to improve your physical health, these two practices can help improve your overall health. You might think there’s a lot of overlap between yoga and meditation, and the two activities have a lot in common, but there are some key differences that might work better for you. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of whether you should practice yoga with meditation, or whether you should practice both yoga and meditation as part of your morning routine.
Free meditation appDeclutter The Mind is an app that will teach you how to meditate, help you form a regular exercise habit, and expand your mind to mindfulness practices.
What is meditation?
Guided meditation focuses your attention on your breath so that you can experience mindfulness in the present moment. Meditation practices give you mental clarity over time. You can try hundreds of different meditations for different moods, length of time, and more. For example, you can do a guided meditation for anxiety, a mindfulness meditation, a body scan meditation, or even a loving kindness meditation. Each meditation serves its purpose to help elevate you in the moment.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a physical exercise that combines stretching and breathing. It’s almost like a physical meditation practice, where you’ll develop mental training through yoga poses. There are different styles of yoga like Ashtanga yoga or classical yoga and Antaranga yoga. It is based on the eight limb system. Yoga uses a variety of poses, such as sun salutations and other physical postures that help stretch your body.
Benefits of yoga and meditation
1. Improving mental health
The physical practices of yoga and the mental practices of meditation, when combined, can greatly benefit mental health. Both meditation and yoga have elements of mindfulness built into their practices, which help you live in the present moment through breathing exercises, where you focus on your breath instead of that busy, wandering mind. When comparing yoga and meditation, the mental health benefits overlap. Doing both regularly can sharpen your mind by focusing on one thing. In yoga meditation, your focus is on your breathing and movement, while in meditation, you only focus on your breathing.
2. Improves cardiovascular health
Yoga and meditation have numerous physical benefits. Yoga helps the sympathetic nervous system. Meditation helps lower blood pressure, especially if it’s high from stress. Those who practice yoga and meditation experience a more activated parasympathetic nervous system, as this helps slow the heart rate. A high heart rate is often considered unhealthy. Those who meditate daily have lower heart rates than the average population. If you experience chronic chest pain, meditation can help reduce the daily stress you feel. Of course, this could be a sign of something more serious, so always consult a doctor or medical professional before starting a yoga or meditation practice.
3. Changes in the brain
Yoga and meditation change the brain dramatically in the best way. Yoga helps improve your ability to learn and plays a role in memory. Meditation breathing exercises help fill your brain with more oxygen. In this way, you will get similar benefits to yoga and also notice enhanced awareness and attention.
What is the difference: yoga vs meditation?
1. Group admission and individual
When you practice yoga, this will happen more often in a yoga class. Of course, like any physical exercise, you can do it individually at home. However, most of the time, yoga takes place in a room full of other people doing yoga practices together with the help of an instructor. However, a meditation practice is mostly done alone. While you can do group meditation or attend a meditation retreat, this tends to be more of an isolated activity. After all, the exercise of gaining emotional and mental stability is often an internal project to work on. Yoga sessions with others will motivate you to finish the class, which often lasts more than an hour. A meditation practice is usually a quick 10-20 minute exercise, so doing it alone with the help of a meditation app is all you need to complete your practice.
2. Where is your attention?
There is a slight difference in your focus when comparing yoga and meditation. Both yoga and meditation try to keep you in the present moment. However, yoga focuses on your physical health and body. Meditation, on the other hand, focuses on your breathing. Yoga has a holistic approach that combines the benefits of your mental and physical well-being, while meditation focuses more on your mind. After all, it’s often our minds that need to be improved to help boost our mood, energy levels and well-being. But this does not mean that the practice of yoga is not important. Yoga connects us to the divine spirit through physical movements. But think about doing what you need most at this moment. If you need to work on your mind, do a quick ten-minute meditation. If you need to work on your body, try asana practice.
3. Energy Use
There is a major difference between yoga and meditation in terms of energy usage. During a yoga session, the physical exercises tend to use more energy than the meditation practice. During your yoga practice, you will move your body through various yoga poses to strengthen your body and increase your overall flexibility. Whether you’re doing asana yoga or hot yoga, it’s possible to burn a lot of calories and feel the burn during your workout. In a meditation practice, you will either sit or lie down and focus on your breath. A guided meditation experience can be so relaxing that people sometimes fall asleep during the session. If you want to burn off some energy, you might consider doing yoga. But if you want to calm the mind, you might consider meditating instead.
4. One is a part of the other
Yoga is the union of mind and body. Although yoga has a physical side, it also incorporates meditation into its practice in a positive way. The physical poses you will do in a yoga practice are only one component of the overall experience. During yoga, you will focus your awareness on your body, which is a form of mindfulness. During meditation, you can focus on your breathing. However, the combination of yoga and meditation is the key to healthy living. These two practices are part of a balanced, everyday life. It keeps all body systems working together.
5. Our feelings
There is a subtle difference in our sensory experience when comparing yoga and meditation. During a meditation practice, our eyes are usually closed, so we can focus on our breathing and not on the distractions around us. Yoga engages all our senses as we keep our eyes open and move our bodies in various asanas. Meditation and yoga differ in this respect. Self-awareness is easier when you sit quietly with your eyes closed for a few minutes during meditation. If physical problems arise during the yoga practice, it will be easier to see them as they are during the yoga practice. But you would feel the discomfort of it during meditation. Ultimately, it differentiates your experience, whether you notice it through sight or feel alone.
6. Different poses
You will most likely be sitting or lying on your back during meditation. Due to the limited range of motion of the practice, you will maintain your position for the entire session. In yoga, you will move your body through a variety of poses that may be tiring or difficult, but only when you first start. If mobility issues arise, you can meditate where mobility is not needed. However, if sitting is difficult for you, the various poses in yoga may be just what you need.
Yoga vs meditation: Which is better for me?
Yoga and meditation are valuable to incorporate into your daily life. If you want to lose weight, you can do yoga. If you are looking for the positive effects of being in a meditative state, such as improving your breathing, or if you want to reduce stress, meditation may be what you are looking for instead. Either way, there are many benefits to both practices. Moreover, you can combine the two by doing yoga meditation.
How to add meditation to your routine
To replicate the positive effects of mental clarity, one must begin meditation. Meditation practice is easy to do on your own for the first time, all you need to do is follow a guide through an app like Declutter The Mind or YouTube.
You will find countless meditation practices such as loving kindness meditation, meditation for anxiety, or even body scan meditation to help you eliminate these unwanted thoughts so you can start living as your true self.
Even if your mental state isn’t where you want it to be, the good news is that meditation doesn’t leave you alone with your thoughts. It helps give you another anchor to focus on, so you can live in the present moment and experience the inner peace you need and deserve.
When comparing yoga and meditation, it is common to think that one is better than the other. But both offer great benefits that can help calm the mind and refresh your body. If you have free time, you can do a 90-minute yoga class, if you only have 5 minutes, a 5-minute meditation might be better for you. If you prefer to be around others, you may prefer a group yoga session, but if you feel like you need to do your inner work alone, try meditation. Both have their place and benefits to help you along your life path. By incorporating both practices into your life, you will reap numerous life-changing benefits to experience peace once and for all.