People have been practicing yoga and meditation for centuries, and for good reason – these activities offer a wealth of benefits. When you combine yoga with meditation, the results can be even more powerful.
Yoga is a physical practice that involves stretching and poses designed to improve strength, flexibility, and balance. Meditation is a mental practice that involves focusing on your breath or a mantra to achieve a state of calmness and peace.
When you combine yoga and meditation, you get the best of both worlds. Yoga helps you to limber up and prepare your body for meditation, while meditation prepares your mind for yoga. Both practices are beneficial in their own right, but when combined, they offer an even greater range of benefits.
To experience the best results when you combine yoga and meditation, it’s important to do both practices correctly.
Learn what you can expect when you practice yoga with meditation, including details about the benefits of each exercise on its own, in the sections below.
The Benefits of Yoga
When you think of yoga, you might imagine people practicing difficult poses in beautiful settings. However, even though these images are pleasant to look at and serve as great marketing tools for studios that offer classes in yoga, they don’t tell the whole story. There’s much more to this ancient exercise than just achieving a pretty pose or two! When you put your mind (and body) into practicing yoga consistently over time, here are some of the physical and mental benefits that you can expect.
Yoga is a powerful exercise that strengthens muscles and improves balance. This workout increases flexibility, which not only helps you to prevent injuries but allows your body to stretch further in other activities, too. Yoga builds strength throughout the entire body, causing an increase in muscle tone. Even if you don’t want to become a yoga master or perform difficult poses, practicing even the most basic movements will help to build up your endurance so you can carry out daily tasks with ease.
Finally, yoga is therapeutic. It restores mind-body balance by giving you the opportunity for self-reflection through meditation (which we’ll talk about below). The deep breaths involved with yoga improve oxygen intake, which transfers into better circulation within your body and can reduce stress, too.
If you’re interested in taking up yoga as an exercise routine, check out the Yoga Foundation for detailed information about how to practice yoga correctly. You can also read Yoga Journal for more details on how to get the most out of your experience.
The Benefits of Meditation
When it comes to meditation, people typically associate this mental exercise with sitting quietly in a serene environment, cross-legged with their hands resting gently on their knees. Although this is one form of meditation (known as “sitting” or “concentration” meditation), there are actually several forms of meditative exercises that you can try instead if sitting isn’t for you. For example, some people prefer walking while meditating (known as “walking” meditation), while others like to move their bodies in time with their breath (known as “movement” meditation).
The following are some of the benefits that you can experience when you practice meditation regularly:
Meditation lowers stress levels. This happens because regular mediation helps to train your brain to better deal with stressful situations. When you meditate, you’re essentially teaching your mind how to focus and stay calm under pressure. In this way, meditation can help improve your work performance and personal relationships by reducing the amount of stress that you feel in these situations.
Meditation increases gray matter in the brain. A study published in 2016 found that long-term meditators have more gray matter in areas of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. This is because meditation helps to promote neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change its structure in response to experience.
Meditation can help improve your attention span and focus. In a study published in 2013, researchers found that participants who practiced “mindfulness meditation” for eight weeks had better attention spans and were better able to focus on tasks than those who didn’t meditate. Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that requires you to focus on your breath and the present moment without judgment.
Meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. A practice called “insight meditation” helps you to see how your thoughts and emotions are related to your physical sensations. This type of meditation can help you to become more self-aware and understand why you react to certain situations the way that you do.
Meditation can improve sleep quality. A study published in 2016 found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation for eight weeks had improved sleep quality and reduced insomnia symptoms.
So, how can you start incorporating meditation into your life? If you’re new to the practice, it might be helpful to attend a guided meditation class or workshop first to learn the basics. There are also many great books and online resources on meditation that can teach you everything you need to know. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, try practicing for 10- minutes per day. You can do this either in the morning, before work or school, or in the evening when you get home from a long day. Over time, try increasing your daily meditation sessions to 20-30 minutes per day .
When it comes to yoga and meditation, both practices provide health benefits and should be included in a healthy lifestyle. While practicing yoga provides physical wellness through exercise and stretching of muscles and joints, meditation helps improve mental wellness by promoting calmness and clarity of mind. Both together can work wonders!