Both yoga and a meditation practice 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 it’s true these two activities have a lot in common, but there are some key differences, which may make one better for you. At the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of whether you should do yoga vs meditation or do both yoga and meditation together as part of your morning routine.
Free meditation appDeclutter The Mind is an app that will teach you how to meditate, help you form the habit of a regular practice, and expand your mind to the teachings of mindfulness.
What is meditation?
Guided meditation focuses your attention on your breath so 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 states of mind, lengths 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 own purpose to help uplift you in this present moment.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a physical practice 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, such as Ashtanga yoga or classical yoga and Antaranga yoga. It’s based on the system of eight limbs. Yoga uses various poses, such as sun salutations and other physical postures that help stretch your body.
Benefits of yoga and meditation
1. Improved 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 incorporated into their practices, which helps you live in the present moment via breathing exercises where you focus on your breath instead of that busy, wandering mind. When comparing yoga vs meditation, the benefits of mental health are one where they overlap. Doing the two on a regular basis can strengthen your mind by getting you to focus your attention on something. In a yoga meditation, your focus is on your breathing and movement, whereas in meditation it’s solely on your breath.
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 are more likely to experience an activated parasympathetic nervous system as it helps slow the heart rate down. A high heart rate is often considered unhealthy. Those who meditate daily often have lower heart rates than the average population. If you experience chronic pain in your chest, meditation may help reduce the daily stress you feel. Of course, it could be a symptom of something more serious, so always consult a doctor or medical professional before starting a yoga or meditation practice.
3. Changes in brain
Yoga and meditation change the brain drastically in the best way possible. Yoga helps improve your ability to learn and plays a role in memory. Meditation’s breathing exercises help fuel your brain with more oxygen. So, you’ll get similar benefits to yoga and also see a strengthened awareness and ability to focus.
What’s the difference: yoga vs meditation?
1. Group setting vs individual
When you practice yoga, more often than not it’ll take place in a yoga class. Of course, like any type of physical practice, you can practice it individually at home. However, for the most part yoga takes place in a room full of other people who together do yoga practices 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, it tends to be more of an isolated activity. After all, the exercise of gaining emotional and mental stability is often an inner project to work on. Yoga sessions done with others motivate you to complete the class, which often runs for over an hour. A meditation practice is typically a quick 10-20 minute practice, so doing it alone with the help of a meditation app is all you need to complete your practice.
2. Where your focus is
When comparing yoga vs meditation, there’s a slight difference in your focus. Both yoga and meditation strive to keep you in the present moment. However, in yoga focuses on your physical health and body. On the other hand, meditation focuses on your breath. Yoga has a holistic approach of combining the benefits of your mental and physical wellbeing, whereas meditation focuses more on your mind. After all, most of the time, it’s our minds that need to be improved upon to help elevate our mood, energy levels, and well-being. But that doesn’t mean a yoga practice isn’t important. Yoga connects us to a divine spirit through physical movements. However, consider doing the one that you need the most in the moment. If you need to work on your mind, try a quick ten-minute meditation. If you need to work on your body, try an asana practice.
3. Energy Usage
There’s a key difference between yoga vs meditation in terms of energy usage. Physical exercises during a yoga session tend to use up more energy than a meditation practice. During a yoga practice, you’ll be moving your body in various yoga poses to strengthen your body and improve your overall flexibility. Whether you do asana yoga or hot yoga, it’s possible to burn many calories during your workout and feel a burn. In a meditation practice, you’ll either be seated or lying down, focusing on your breath. A guided meditation practice can be so relaxing that people sometimes fall asleep during their session. If you’re looking to burn some energy, you might consider doing a yoga practice. However, if you’re looking to calm the mind, you might consider meditating instead.
4. One is part of the other
Yoga is about the unification of the mind and body. While yoga has a physical aspect to it, it also incorporates meditation into its practice in a positive way. The physical poses you would do in a yoga practice are only one component of the overall practice. During yoga, you’ll be focusing your awareness on your body, which is also a form of mindfulness. In meditation, you might focus on your breath instead. However, combining yoga and meditation is key to healthy living. The two practices are part of a balanced, daily life. It gets all the body systems working together as one.
5. Our senses
There’s a slight difference in our sensory experience when comparing yoga vs meditation. During a meditation practice, typically our eyes are closed, so we can focus our attention on our breathing rather than the distractions around us in our environment. Yoga incorporates all our senses, as we keep our eyes open and move our bodies in different asanas. Meditation and yoga differ in this regard. It’s much easier to have self awareness when you sit quietly with closed eyes for a few minutes during meditation. And if physical issues arise during a yoga practice, it’ll be easier to see them as they happen during a yoga practice. However, in meditation, you would feel the discomfort of it. Ultimately, it only differs your experience of it, whether noticing it through sight or through feeling.
6. Different poses
During meditation, you’ll likely be in a seated position or lying down flat on your back. Due to the limited movement of the practice, you’ll maintain your position for the entire session. In yoga, you’ll be moving your body around in various poses that can be strenuous or challenging, but only when first starting out. If mobility issues arise, you can try a meditation instead where mobility isn’t needed. However, if sitting still is difficult for you, the variety of poses in yoga may be just what you need.
Yoga vs meditation: Which is better for me?
Yoga and meditation are both valuable to incorporate into your daily life. If you’re looking to achieve weight loss, you might try yoga. If you’re looking for the positive effects of being in a meditative state, such as improving your breath work or if you want to reduce stress, meditation might be what you seek instead. Either way, there are many benefits to both practices. Plus, you can also combine the two by doing a yoga meditation.
How to add meditation to your routine
To repeat the positive effects of mental clarity, you need to start meditating. A meditation practice is easy to do on your own for the first time, all you need to do is follow along to a guide via an app like Declutter The Mind or via YouTube.
You’ll find countless meditation practices, such as loving-kindness meditation, meditation for anxiety, or even a body scan meditation to help you remove those 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 vs meditation, it’s common to think one is better than the other. But both offer great benefits that can help you calm the mind and refresh your body. If you have some time to spare, you might do a 90-minute yoga class, if you’ve only got about 5 minutes, a 5-minute meditation may be more up your alley. If you prefer being around others, you might prefer a group yoga session, but if you feel like you need to do some inner work alone, try meditation. Both have their place and benefits to help you along life’s journey. By fitting both practices into your life, you’ll gain numerous life-changing benefits to experience peace of mind for once and for all.