Some people might think that meditation is synonymous with yoga, but these two practices are definitely not one and the same.
For one, meditation is a part of yoga; the practice is not complete without it. Furthermore, yoga involves more physical exertion and requires both physical and mental strength to perform.
On the other hand, meditation is more of a mental exercise than a physical one. It is a practice meant to put you in a peaceful state of mind to help you center yourself and concentrate. Hence, it is an essential part of yoga practice, wherein one of the primary goals is to increase focus.
So, which is better? Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. In this in-depth breakdown between yoga and mediation, you’re going to learn all about the key differences, how these practices work together in synergy, and more. When it comes to the meditation vs yoga debate, it can be hard to tell which is right for you without getting to know each practice first – so that’s where we’ll begin.
Yoga vs Meditation: What Is The Difference?
Yoga and meditation are quite similar in their goals, but their characteristics make them a bit different. As described above – yoga is a far more physical practice, that incorporates some elements of mental strength. Meditation, on the other hand, is an entirely mental practice – albeit a difficult, taxing one. Nevertheless, there is much more to know in regards to meditation vs yoga. Allow us to break it all down for you.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a practice that originates from ancient India; a 5,000-year-old method developed and improved upon by countless yogis throughout the history of yoga. The primary goal of yoga is to increase harmony in the body, mind, spirit, and environment. It involves all the aspects of human development, including physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual.
The practice of yoga revolves around doing poses, all with varying purposes. For instance, some yoga poses aim to promote core strength, while other yoga poses are used to develop balance and flexibility. Nevertheless, all yoga poses culminate to help you achieve the fundamental goal of yoga, which is to improve all aspects of your well-being.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a key part of yoga. It is a practice that involves focusing your mind on only one object, thought, or activity while blocking out everything else. The goals of meditation are to increase your focus; clear your mind; train your attention, and calm your emotions.
Yoga is usually not done without meditation, but you can certainly do meditation without yoga. In fact, meditation is also a part of many religious traditions as well as therapeutic practices.
Unlike yoga, meditation does not involve physical exertion. It does, however, require a lot of mental focus and the ability to block out the rest of the world. In our opinion, mastering meditation is far more difficult than mastering yoga.
Meditation vs Yoga: Which Is Better For You?
The main difference between yoga and meditation is the part of your being you exert more–the body or the mind? Yoga requires both mental and physical strength, while meditation mostly requires the latter. However, this doesn’t give us a clear answer on which one is better.
With that being said, let’s dig deeper into the meditation vs yoga debate by listing down the benefits of each one.
Benefits Of Yoga Practice
Originally, the primary purpose of yoga is to train the body and mind to become aware of their own nature and achieve a higher sense of consciousness. In other words, the main goal is Self-Realization, a state wherein you know who you truly are.
In modern times, the goals of yoga have shifted away from the original context of the practice. Therefore, the benefits have also changed in several ways.
Today, most people do yoga for physical benefits. These include improved strength, flexibility, and balance. Yoga poses challenge all of these physical aspects by requiring one to hold each pose for a certain amount of time. The difficulty varies; with harder poses generally being more beneficial overall.
That said, yoga is a highly effective practice if you want to improve your physical capabilities. Yoga can make you stronger, more flexible, and more stable in your moments. As secondary benefits, yoga can also help you lose weight, achieve better posture, and have better endurance for exercise.
Can yoga help mental health, too? Yes, yoga is known to help with easing anxiety, reducing stress, and promoting a healthier state of mental well-being. This is because yoga is–at its center–a spiritual practice that helps you calm and focus your mind. Therefore, many people also do yoga as a way to relax their minds and improve their mental stability. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of doing yoga, we actually wrote a complete guide recently. Take a look!
Benefits Of Meditation Practice
Meditation can be a standalone practice or part of another exercise, such as yoga. Either way, meditation is an effective method to ground yourself and improve your state of mind.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, meditation involves focusing on a single thing while blocking out everything else. In the process, you are effectively clearing your thoughts, calming your mind, and focusing on the present.
These effects lead to many mental and emotional benefits, including reductions in stress levels, anxiety, and overthinking. Hence, people who meditate may find themselves better able to focus during the day; manage stress; practice self-awareness, and actively reduce negative emotions.
Because of these benefits, meditation is an integral part of yoga, wherein two of the main goals are to self-reflect and become more self-aware.
So – Which Is Better For You?
Now that we’ve listed down the benefits of meditation vs yoga, how do you decide which one is right for you?
Well, it all depends on your goals. Do you want to improve your mental and physical health at the same time? If the answer is ‘yes’, we highly recommend trying yoga, starting with this beginner yoga workout at home or perhaps a beginner’s class at your local yoga studio.
But what if you only want a relaxation method to incorporate into your daily life? If this is the case, then your best bet is meditation.
However, it is clear that both of these practices can be highly beneficial for you. So, if you want to strive for both physical and mental benefits, we highly suggest doing both yoga and meditation.
How To Add Both Yoga & Meditation To Your Lifestyle
Dedicating a small chunk of your day to yoga and meditation can make a huge difference in your physical and mental well-being. With that being said, here are some useful tips on how to incorporate both yoga and meditation into your lifestyle:
Meditate Before and After Yoga
Clearing your head before a yoga session can make it easier for you to focus, which, in turn, will help your yoga session run more smoothly. Meditating after doing yoga, on the other hand, is a great way to let your body recover. Yoga, after all, can be a physically demanding exercise.
Meditate Throughout The Day
Prepare your mind for the day by meditating in the morning upon waking. Then, try to meditate throughout the day, perhaps during your lunch break. After you get home, decompress from your workday with another session of meditation.
You don’t have to keep a schedule for meditation; just do it by instinct. For example, if you start feeling overwhelmed, take a quick break to recenter yourself. Or if you just have free time to spend during the day, why not take a few minutes to clear your mind?
Make Yoga & Meditation a Regular Practice
The physical and mental health benefits that we’ve mentioned in the earlier section can only be achieved with regular practice. So, if you want to reap the full benefits of yoga and meditation, try to engage in both at least 3 to 4 times a week–or better yet, every single day.
Just remember to let your body rest from yoga if you are feeling too strained. When it comes to meditation, however, you can do it every day without physical consequences.
Yoga can be very challenging, especially for beginners. This is why we always recommend going slow at first. Start with the easiest poses, then work your way up from there. Over time, your body will become stronger and more flexible, which will allow you to do more difficult poses.
Meditation can also be a challenge when you are just starting out. Clearing your mind and focusing on just one thing takes skill and practice, particularly for those who have trouble concentrating.
So, when it comes to meditation, starting small means meditating for shorter periods before working your way up. For instance, you can start meditating for 5 minutes at first. Once you start finding it easier to focus, you can start adding more time to your meditation sessions until you are able to meditate for as long as you want.
Final Thoughts On Yoga vs Meditation
As you can see, there is not much difference between yoga and meditation. They both aim to increase self-awareness and achieve a clearer state of mind, which are both essential for good mental well-being. The only difference is that yoga involves physical exertion, which makes it beneficial for both your mental and physical health.
So, when it comes to the yoga vs meditation debate, there is really no right answer because both of them are good for you. More than that, meditation is already a part of yoga. Therefore, if you want to achieve physical benefits as well as mental, the best option is to do both.
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