Meditation Vs Yoga
Before we start – I am no ‘guru’ nor a spiritual expert. I just enjoy Meditation and Yoga and wanted to start a blog from my perspective of trying to create a daily routine that allows me a glimpse of the stillness they can bring. I try to link out to as many reputable sources within these posts as I can, some of these external links enable me to earn a commission which helps towards the running of the blog.
Meditation and Yoga – what’s all the fuss about?
Meditation and yoga are the two key phrases frequently used by spiritual practitioners, personal trainers, doctors, psychologists, and others who want to spread the awareness of living a healthy, well-balanced life. Yoga and meditation seem to go hand in hand, many people who practice one are often guided towards the other.
For centuries, yogis and sages have practiced yoga and meditation to sustain their good health (both physical and mental).
While many of us want to practice yoga and meditation to achieve these same desired results, very seldom, do people know the difference between the two?
Both yoga and meditation serve the same purpose – to achieve inner stillness, but they have a different approach to achieving this goal. Meditation is a part of yoga that focuses only on mental behavior, whereas in yoga, the focus is on both physical and mental behavior.
Meditation – control over the mind
Meditation is a divine feeling where the mind is clear of thoughts and we directly experience the oneness with the universe. We meditate to experience our inner state of consciousness. It is a practice, which originated in ancient India and was performed by the Hindus. But, it is not a part of any religion and is followed by the people of all cultures.
In the Indus Valley, approximately 5000 -3500 BCE, archaeologists discovered the evidence of meditation. From that time, images on the walls of caves have been found depicting meditation positions. There were figures of people who sat on the floor with their legs crossed, hands on knees, and eyes closed gently. It is believed that people spent years in meditation after realizing that materialistic happiness is momentary and they need to rediscover themselves to experience the blissful happiness.
In meditation, the focus is solely on the mind. The purpose of meditation is to have control over our mind through self-learning. We learn to overcome the negativities, fear, grudges, annoyance, and any other emotion that could result in the physical, mental or spiritual disturbance. We easily get carried away by a variety of emotions, try to analyze them, and use our own set of techniques to handle them. Meditating regularly results in gaining the infinite positive energy that is required to tackle all kinds of worldly problems.
Meditation doesn’t require any physical activity and it can be practiced at any time, any place, and any position (sitting on a cushion or lying down). Unlike sports, it doesn’t require us to get into the postures that could result in perspiration.
Meditation is practiced to have a healthy mind and a healthy soul. We focus on our breaths to boost our concentration.
Once we achieve this, our mind relaxes completely, thereby engrossing us deeply into meditation.
To begin with Meditation, we need to follow these basic principles:
- Choose a calm place and be in a comfortable position.The position can either be cross-legged, kneeling, sat on a chair or lying down. Lying down should be the last option as we may fall asleep in our practice
- The hands are placed on our lap, letting the arms relax. When meditation you can place your hands in a number of different positions.
- The focus should be on our breaths, which in-turn would gather our entire concentration on our mind
Meditation is usually practiced with ‘Pranayama’ – awareness of breath. In Sanskrit, ‘Prana’ means life and ‘Ayama’ means extension. It is performed to control the breathing by a set of techniques. It consists of breathing exercises that improve physical health, releases stress, boosts energy, and helps to achieve mental peace. The flow of breath is controlled through the nostrils and mouth.
Meditation is not an easy process and it does require mental effort. Initially, you may find it difficult to get into a comfortable position and to remain calm for any length of time but as you continue to meditate on a regular basis you will grow used to it and look forward to your individual meditation practice. Mindfulness meditation is another way to start a meditation practice. Simply be grounding yourself into the moment and focusing on your surroundings, you can build that muscle. Present moment awareness is what mindfulness meditation is all about.
Yoga – control over the body
Yoga means ‘to unite’ and is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’. Its goal is to unite the human soul with the Almighty.
Each one of us has the spiritual power to discover ourselves from within. However, we underestimate our power due to lack of understanding or just because we are too busy occupied with solving our personal problems.
The existence of yoga can be traced back to around 5000 years ago, but this date does differ.
Yoga is all about postures, exercise, and balance. It is more of physical activity than mind control, which is why for some it is even considered a sport.
However, it is different than any other form of exercise because you are told to focus on our breaths while we perform yoga, bypassing any thoughts flowing through our mind.
The end result is to achieve a whole and healthy body. Most of the exercises involve simple movements of our body parts and they are easy to perform by people of all ages. Yoga is a conventional form of practicing exercises efficiently.
In yoga talk, the term ‘Asana’ is used to depict different forms of exercise.
Every ‘Asana’ has significance, thus playing a prominent role in experiencing the existence of different parts of the body.
The presence of bones, muscles, flesh, and blood can be sensed by performing the ‘Asanas’. It is very useful in treating various kinds of health-related ailments. It is highly beneficial in curing all type of body pains as it involves stretching of the body parts and straightening the back.
Back pains can be cured over a period of time if one practices yoga regularly. Respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, muscular pain, back pain, and any other health-related issues can be sorted by regular Yoga practice. The human body has all the power it needs to heal naturally and yoga helps in achieving the same.
Many yoga centers are embellished with the mystical symbols (Hand Symbols) that hold significance in the world of yoga.
It is believed that practicing yoga with these symbols brings in positive energy, enlightenment, self-realization, and oneness with the Almighty. Yogis believe that most of the health problems can be cured by incorporating the symbols in our Yoga practice.
Meditation Vs Yoga – complexity level
Meditation doesn’t require any particular time and it can be practiced at any point throughout the day.
However, early morning hours give the best result as the oxygen level is high and our minds stay fresh after a good night’s sleep.
To meditate, we don’t require any special training and can be easily started by watching tutor videos or reading articles.
To start, you can devote 5-10 minutes of your day and then increase your meditation practice gradually. The hardest part is our ability to stay still while focussing on just your breath. There is every possibility of multiple thoughts distracting you but without a reaction, they will seem meaningless. If you react, you can become caught in the endless loops of restless activity. Let’s develop the habit of meditating regularly to experience the inner joy, satisfaction, and divinity!
Yoga—Simple to Complicated
Yoga can be performed right from the simple hand, leg, and neck movements to the complicated stretchy exercises.
Every part of the body can be given attention through Yoga.
‘Asanas’ can be performed by standing, sitting, sleeping on back, sleeping on stomach, sitting on a chair, and kneeling down.
There are different varieties that are specially performed for respective body part functions such as Yoga for skin, digestion, respiration, body pain, and cardiovascular functioning.
We can choose the best ones that are suitable for our body and perform accordingly. To begin, you should start with the basics and increase the level of difficulty once you get comfortable enough to progress.
There are some excellent books written on the subject of yoga which can help you on your way to mastering the most popular yoga positions. We have reviewed the best yoga books in our yearly roundup for you.
Meditation vs yoga – Which to opt for?
It is highly recommended to perform both yoga meditation activities together in order to achieve the most worthwhile results. However, if we are looking for a more precise outcome, it is better to focus on one of them until you become comfortable enough carrying out both yoga and meditation practices at the same time.
If you find yourself becoming angered easily over petty issues or often get anxious then definitely consider starting a meditation practice or incorporate a form of mindfulness meditation into your day.
As mentioned earlier, it is highly favorable for stress reduction, brings in tranquillity, promotes sound sleep patterns, and improves concentration. Meditation is highly preferred after practicing yoga to reduce the vibrations that result from yoga and to attain an unwavering state of mind and body.
If you’re looking for external physique and all-round fitness then yoga practice is the way to go. Yoga can reduce weight, improve immunity, calm the mind and offer improved posture. It helps to achieve and sustain physical fitness more than mental relief. The great thing about yoga is it requires that you become present in the moment, so by default you end up practicing a form of mindfulness meditation. For that reason, yoga often leads to building on this mindfulness meditation practice.
You can start to combine the two in yoga meditation. That simply means that at the end of your yoga session, you take some time for quiet reflection, adding a few minutes of meditation practice at the end of your yoga time. This is a great way to kick start a meditation practice, just seamlessly combining yoga and meditation together, you will notice how complimentary they really are.
Yoga and Meditation practice doesn’t really require any essentials to start. We can wear any attire and practice on any surfaces as long as they are comfortable. You can get going with yoga and meditation pretty much anywhere and at any time.
However, people prefer yoga towels and cushions to perform yoga and meditation respectively.
There are also specific accessories like yoga straps and yoga sticks, available as well to enhance your yoga practice. Yoga straps help in getting the necessary posture and alignment while yoga sticks are used in stretching exercises to get additional support and balance.
Yoga towels can be used to wipe out the sweat after the workout or can be placed on our mat to get additional grip.
You don’t require a gym or yoga center to practice yoga and meditation. Once we are aware of the ‘Asanas’ in Yoga and techniques of meditating, we can practice it at our home, and how often you do so is entirely up to you.
We can choose a soft cushion or mat so that we can sit comfortably and meditate. As far as clothing is considered, we don’t really have to bother as long as we are comfortable.
Performing yoga on a yoga mat is much easier than performing directly on the floor.
Mats provide balance to our body making us feel comfortable in our postures, thus optimizing our performance. They provide extra grip that prevents us from slipping. Yoga blocks can also be used to enhance your practice.
Key differences between meditation and yoga
|Comprises of Mental Peace||Comprises of Physical and Mental Peace|
|The focus is on the mind||Focus is on the respective body parts|
|Easy to perform||Can be easy or difficult based on the Yoga type we perform|
|Primarily reduces stress||Primarily develops a good immune system|
|Considered as a part of Yoga||Yoga comprises of meditation and several other physical and mental exercises|
|Doesn’t require External Training||Beginners require External Training|
|Can practice at any time||Practice preferred on empty stomach or 2 hrs after eating|
Now, that you are aware of the importance and key differences between yoga and meditation hopefully your appreciation of them both will be enhanced.