In recent years, self-care has become a trending topic for people worldwide. With daily life’s business, you can bring some massive positive changes to your body by taking care of yourself. However, practicing self-care should not only include curling up under a blanket or taking a nice bubble bath. There are other and more effective ways to practice self-care that can improve both your physical and mental health. And these include age-old methods like meditation and yoga that can do wonders for your overall health.
Since inception, both these techniques have been used to encourage mindfulness and other physical functions performed by the body that would help you make yourself feel good. They heal your soul, body, and mind that provides you with the opportunity to live a happier and healthier life. Studies have also shown that mental health disorders such as chronic stress, anxiety, and depression are prevalent in developed countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. They are also considered a significant risk factor for severe health conditions like asthma, cancer, and heart disease. Integrative and holistic body-mind practices like meditation and yoga have become the ultimately self-care practices that result in healthier life outcomes.
Before we start exploring the similarities and dissimilarities between the two, let us first understand what yoga and meditation mean.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient Sanskrit word that means ‘union.’ It typically refers to the union of an individual performing the practices with the higher powers of the universe. Therefore, by practicing yoga, individuals can achieve such entities’ union and help them achieve spiritual union.
As a practice, yoga includes spiritual, mental, and physical exercises that originated from India. Yoga also involves multiple breathing exercises and poses. It offers a holistic approach to spiritual and healthy living. Through yoga, you can connect your spirit, body, and mind. You can also improve your daily living habits, fine-tune the body systems, and assist in building better relations.
The activating poses of yoga can stimulate the body’s sympathetic system that improves your flight or fight response. These are alternated with some relaxing poses that activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, helping you achieve a calmer state when required.
What is Meditation?
Meditation brings mental peace that helps you forget the world around you and the complexities that you are facing. In meditation, you do not have to practice any physical movement or exercises. You have to sit somewhere quiet for some time and focus on the energy flow in your body.
Most self-care advisors consider meditation a part of yoga that can be performed during or after yoga sessions. For instance, if you are tired of practicing asanas, you can meditate for some time to reduce the vibrations in your body and go back to being normal. Through meditation, you can boost your concentration power and improve your breathing system to benefit your overall health.
Meditation and Yoga: What are the differences?
Although meditation and yoga have some common elements, they have some fundamental differences as well. Some of them include,
Yoga focuses primarily on movements and exercises. Individuals who practice yoga have to put a considerable emphasis on the different body positions and breathing patterns. Although yoga has been designed for benefitting the mind, it is not as effective as meditation when it comes to mental effects.
In some cases, people might find it physically challenging to practice yoga. People might find it challenging to maintain multiple breathing patterns while setting up their body in difficult postures. They would also have to maintain internal peace, focus, and balance to make the most out of their yoga routine.
However, individuals who practice meditation do mental exercise solely. Meditation involves little to almost no physical movements. When individuals are meditating, they learn to connect with their surroundings, learn, self-reflect, and relax. Meditation provides mindfulness feeling to the practitioner that positively affects both the physical and mental health.
Nevertheless, studies have suggested that compared to meditation, yoga is a more practical option that uplifts physical health by improving weight loss, flexibility, muscle strength, and cardiovascular health. Individuals diagnosed with different types of stiffness or pain can heavily benefit from yoga.
Restrictions and End Goals
As the two practices have different natures, there are certain restrictions in deciding who can practice yoga or practice meditation. For example, yoga incorporates some asanas that cannot be performed on an empty stomach. Apart from that, there are also some asanas that individuals with specific health issues cannot perform.
Whereas, in the case of meditation, almost everyone can practice it as it involves no physical exercises and requires the practitioner to focus within themselves.
Lastly, the end goals of meditation and yoga are quite different too. Yoga offers a more holistic end goal compared to meditation. It focuses on external and internal stability compared to meditation that only focuses on the practitioner’s state of mind.
In the end, both meditation and yoga are excellent for the soul and body. Even though meditation is a part of yoga, both practices offer different types of benefits for your body. Incorporating both the practices in your routine can make your life well-balanced and happy.
Madelline completed her studies in community healthcare education. Apart from being a freelance writer, she also volunteers at the local non-profit organisations that help people suffering from mental disorders like depression and anxiety.