4 Captivating Connections Between Meditation and Yoga

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It’s no secret that yoga and meditation are closely tied. Both practices have a number of similar benefits, and each can be used to complement the other.

Almost all yoga classes incorporate meditation into the session, while not all meditation sessions incorporate what many people think of as yoga.

But the link between the two is stronger than most people realise, with meditation an integral part of a yoga practice.

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How Meditation will Enhance your Yoga Practice and Vice Versa

Many people find a traditional seated meditation difficult, finding it easier to stay present if they combine their meditation with physical exercise.

Both yoga and meditation place their emphasis on mindfulness, and when a tough yoga session feels like a serious workout, the meditation element is often missed.

Combining meditation with yoga can have a profound effect on your mood and mental wellbeing.

For many people, the stillness of a seated meditation can be very difficult. Not only can a seated meditation be uncomfortable if you don’t have a good meditation pillow or seating area, beginner meditators can find those first few sessions tricky purely because we are not used to sitting still and focusing for long periods of time.

Pairing meditation with yoga’s physical practice can help beginners get a feel for meditation and what it’s about. Savasana (corpse pose) at the end of a class offers a great opportunity to meditate, and many beginners find it easier to stay focused at the end of a tough yoga session.

Both meditation and yoga place their emphasis on mindfulness. This requires you to become aware of the present moment. That could mean becoming aware of the rise and fall of your breathing, the sounds around you, or paying close attention to your thoughts and emotions.

Of course, yoga is a form of physical exercise, with reduced body fat, increased energy and better flexibility some of the health benefits you’d expect to see from regular sessions.

But with yoga growing so rapidly in popularity in the Western world, the spiritual element is often lost. It’s all too common to see regular yogis skipping arguably the most important pose, savasana, in favour of rushing off to grab their green juice! To make the most of your yoga practice, meditation needs to be integrated.

So, instead of thinking of yoga as a form of physical exercise, it can instead be thought of as a moving meditation. Yoga has elements of meditation built in; the body, mind and breath are connected, and yogis are taught to move with their breath.

The added movement can make it easier to focus, and often yogis get lost in the flow, forgetting thoughts of the future or past and simply tuning into their body.

What is the Connection Between Meditation and Yoga?

Yoga is traditionally used to prepare the body for meditation, allowing us to reach a point of stillness and helping us to come into the present moment.

Practising both yoga and meditation together will help you make the most from your practice. 

Yoga and meditation are closely linked, and yoga is often thought of as a great way to prepare the body for meditation.

In fact, many yoga postures were designed to systematically prepare the body for stillness.

During a yoga practice, we slow our breathing, working in sync with our bodies. Moving through postures with the breath will eventually bring us to a point of stillness.

We are able to slow down, keep our attention in the present moment and stay focused.

The final posture, savasana, offers an opportunity to be truly still and restful.

meditation and yoga - savasana
Savasana is mindfulness practised at the end of a yoga session

The Differences between Yoga and Meditation

While yoga uses physical asanas to help practitioners come into the present moment, meditation uses different techniques.

For those who find a seated meditation tricky, working through asanas before you practice can help you come into the present moment.

One notable difference is that yoga is a physical practice, whereas meditation is not. Yoga uses physical postures (asanas) to work through pain, stiffness and muscle tension, while also helping practitioners get into a meditative state.

It’s practiced to prepare the body and be useful for those who find seated meditations difficult.

Meditation on the other hand doesn’t use asanas. Some individuals may find sitting still for meditation very difficult, especially those who struggle with psychological or physical issues and trauma.

For them, a practice that combines mindfulness techniques with physical activity can help ease them into a calmer state of mind.

Meditation and Yoga - Yoga
Yoga is a great way to prepare the body for prolonged seated meditation

What is Yoga Meditation?

Yoga meditation is a seamless integration of yoga and meditation, incorporating both the movement of a physical practice and the stillness of a mindfulness meditation. 

Yoga is so much more than just exercise, and practicing yoga without incorporating breathwork and meditation into your practice isn’t really yoga at all.

Yoga meditation will incorporate both the physical practice and the stillness of meditation.

Whether you practice yoga at home or in a class, try to resist temptation to skip savasana or the period of stillness at the end of the class. Yogis can spend a lifetime learning to meditate, so don’t worry if you find it difficult to begin with.

In fact, often people find meditation difficult because they make it too complicated. All a mindfulness meditation is, essentially, is a focus on the here and now.

There should be no room for your mind to wander from thoughts of the past or future, but if it does, simply return to the present without judgement.

Meditation isn’t about having no thoughts at all, it’s about staying focused and resisting the temptation to react to thoughts that do arise.

Key Facts

  1. Yoga and meditation are closely linked, and a yoga practice that doesn’t incorporate meditation isn’t yoga in the traditional sense.

  2. Many people find a seated meditation difficult, whereas learning to be mindful while practicing various asanas can be easier.

  3. Both yoga and meditation encourage mindfulness – a focus on the present.

  4. Yoga meditation combines the physical practice of yoga with the stillness of meditation.