Yoga and meditation are both incredibly powerful practices. Actually, when considered holistically both of these practices are very intimately intertwined. Meditation can be considered a part of the philosophy and practice within yoga. In this article, we shall consider how they are practiced together through learning more about the actions, intentions, philosophy and amazing benefits of both yoga and meditation.
Can meditation and yoga be practiced together?
When you become fully aware of just how connected and interdependent yoga and meditation are, it becomes evidently clear that it is most beneficial to practice them together. Yoga is made up of many practices and meditation is one of these core practices.
The origin and intentions of yoga and meditation
What is yoga?
Yoga can be seen as a system or technology of various methods and process which can be practiced with discipline in order to transform your life mentally, physically and spiritually. The origin of Yoga can be traced back to ancient Asia; there are a wide variety of yogic practices that originate from both Hinduism and Buddhism. Although the present-day presentation of yoga is often more focused on the physical body and surface-level appearances, the true rootedness of yoga is completely holistic, encompassing deeper awareness and health of both the physical and energetic nature of existence.
The key element and intention of yogic practice are to experience the state of Samadhi which is a state of equanimity, complete presence, or higher mind consciousness. Yoga includes various practices such as; asanas which are specific physical postures designed to active energy and keep the body strong and healthy, mudras which are hand postures or gestures that are held for a period of time to activate the elements and connections in our physical body, mantras which is the chanting or repetition of sound and different mantras have specific meanings and resonance, pranayama which is the regulation of energy and breath through specific breathing techniques.
There are different types of yoga such as kundalini yoga, vinyasa yoga, iyengar yoga, yin yoga and many more. The practice and philosophy within the different styles can slightly vary, some may focus more on certain practices or vary in pace and intention. For example, kundalini yoga is yoga that focuses more on activating the chakras (energy centers of the body) and emphasizes specific meditations and breathing techniques within the practice.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an essential practice within the science of yoga. It can be simply defined as a practice of deliberate focus and present awareness. The techniques, practices and philosophies that form part of yoga are used within meditation to experience a state of mental relaxation and presence. There are so many different types of meditation such as mindfulness meditation, kundalini meditation, mantra meditation, guided meditation, metta meditation, vipassana mediation, sound meditation and many more variations. Even within this wide variety, most types of meditation are inextricably linked to yoga as the techniques used are part of yogic practice. The state of meditation is cultivated through yoga, the intentional focus during asanas can be experienced as an active meditation, yogic breathing techniques, mudras and mantras are used to enter the state of meditation.
The benefits of practicing both yoga and meditation
Now that we have a better understanding of how yoga and meditation are linked, it is clear that fully engaging a holistic yoga practice that consciously includes meditation is of great benefit. The benefits of this can allow for the harmonious experience of mind, body and spirit health and coherence. The following are some of the benefits that a disciplined yoga and meditation practice can result in:
- Focus and concentration
Yoga and meditation can enhance your ability to deeply focus and concentrate. This is cultivated through dedication and intentional presence during practices such as holding the asana postures, repetition of a mantra and focus on the breath during meditation
- Relieve mental stress and anxiety
Yoga and meditation can foster a state of peace and calm. The practices such as mindfulness, meditation and grounding into the body within asanas all help to focus thoughts and fade mental clutter enough to rebalance patterned emotional responses. This can help relieve stress and anxiety.
- Strength and flexibility
The regular practice of yoga can increase your strength. Through holding and deepening of the various yoga asanas the muscles of the body are intentionally engaged and strengthened. The body is also strengthened through increased flexibility gained from dedicated yoga practice, each time you practice a yoga asana your muscle memory is activated, your skeletal system is aligned and you are able to engage more deeply.
The asanas of yoga are specifically designed with balance in mind to bring about harmony of the left and right sides of the body, brain and masculine/ feminine energies. Postures and breathing exercises are physically practiced in an equal proportion of time and repetition on each side of the body to embody balance.
- Healthy organs, hormone system and blood
The practices of yoga are effective in maintaining and rebalancing your physical health. Regular breathing exercises keep the blood oxygenated, specific yogic deep breathing techniques massage the organs and can stimulate the release and balance of beneficial hormones. Yoga asanas are linked to engaging specific organs and effective in assisting with physical ailments that we need to heal.
- Higher consciousness, insight and awareness
The holistic practice of yoga as a lifestyle and philosophy can lead to the expanding of consciousness and awareness of higher perspectives of existence. When you are living in a balanced and healthy state you will find it easier to tap into and naturally experience the subtler energetic realms of life.
- Balanced chakra system
Within yogic understanding, the human chakra system is acknowledged as 7 energy centers of the body known as the root chakra, sacral chakra, solar plexus chakra, heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye chakra and crown chakra. Each chakra governs specific energetic and physical manifestations which can be in a state of balance or imbalance. Yoga and meditation are primary methods to energize and rebalance the chakras. This is maintained through asanas, kundalini meditation, pranic breathing, mudras and mantras that corresponded with each chakra
- Oneness and Inner union
As mentioned earlier in the article the primary intention of yoga is Samadhi which a state of complete presence. This is experienced through the awareness and acceptance of everything from deep within yourself. It is being in touch with the infinite and timeless energetic nature of existence. All of the processes that yoga includes contribute to experiencing this vital state of consciousness.
There are so many variations of yoga and meditation that are offered, continue your research and follow your intuition, the most accurate research is often through first- hand experience! You will likely experience the full benefits from practicing yoga as a holistic lifestyle rather than as fragmented practices, each of the practices within yoga are interlinked and intended to enhance your experience of life.
__ Written by Music Of Wisdom team