Everyone tries to cope with life’s troubles and problems in their own way. What if there was an exercise that would help us all find peace, wouldn’t it be nice? Meditation and yoga have now become well-known practices for reducing stress. The scientific world does not deny their support to physical and mental health. But do we know exactly what these techniques are? Or do you know which one would be more beneficial for you? How do they differ? Let’s find the answers to these questions so that you can comfortably practice the techniques and get relaxed!
Happy 21st June International Day of Yoga!
What is yoga?
First of all, it’s important to state that yoga is not a religion. Since there is a misunderstanding about this, it is useful to state this from the beginning. Yoga dates back to ancient times, so it may be perceived as a religious practice, but this is not really the case. Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. But more than that, it is actually a lifestyle that aims to achieve tranquility in the mind and spirit.
Yoga, which has 8 stages in the traditional sense, is based on 3 basic techniques: Asana, Pranayama and Dhyana. Asana focuses on movement, Pranayama focuses on practicing breath, and Dhyana is basically the meditation part of yoga. So, meditation is actually a part of the yoga tradition. Over time, yoga became more prominent in its physical aspect and became associated with fitness.
Movement is an important part of yoga. It has physical training value with its tiring aspect that works the muscles. The meditative aspect of yoga is realized by combining the 3 basic techniques I mentioned above. Meditation is the mind-training part of yoga and becomes a vehicle for achieving the ultimate awareness and tranquility that yoga offers.
In other words, yoga is not a type of meditation, but it turns into a meditative practice by containing the element of meditation. Therefore, yoga is a concept explained and put into practice with its methods: it is a lifestyle! Meditation is also a part of this lifestyle. Within the many forms that yoga takes today, which one you choose depends on how you want to build your own lifestyle.
What is the Difference Between Meditation and Yoga Today?
Although some claim that they are the same thing and others that they are completely different, these two practices are actually intertwined and carry a strong bond.
Traditional meditation that comes from the yoga tradition is a part of yoga that should ideally be followed after yoga asanas. Dhyana means to be a higher state of consciousness. Meditation is about heightening perception. Meditative techniques, or meditation, by focusing on the breath and mind, brings energy to the body and mind, and ultimately aims for self-actualization.
Meditation involves seeking mental stability, while yoga includes both physical and mental exercise. While yoga prioritizes poses and breathing exercises, meditation is about concentration. That’s why today, the technique of mindfulness meditation is applied rather than its traditional form. Mindfulness meditation is easier to adapt to everyday life because the practice can be practiced more timeless and spaceless in general.
Meditation requires no movement, it is generally performed by sitting in a quiet place and focusing on the breath or a particular object. The reason why meditation is applied after yoga movements is to establish a relationship with the vibrations of the body and to return the body and mind to a stable state.
In this sense, yoga can be seen as both physical and mental, while meditation mostly focuses on the mind. However, besides regulating the energy and vibrations in the body, meditation also strengthens the mind-body communication with the body scanning technique. Although not as much as yoga, today’s meditation practices carry a physical aspect in practice.
As a result, both practices lead to good general health, both in body and mind, provide mental relaxation of the individual and increase their happiness as a whole.
Meditation or Yoga?
It totally depends on your quest.
If you are dealing with stress, anxiety or a similar mental burden, meditation will be a more direct solution. On the other hand, if you have physical pains, if you find it difficult to start meditation, if you cannot focus and you do not feel mentally ready, then yoga will be a good option. Moreover, it can also make you ready to meditate.
Overall, the two combined will be the strongest helper. You can make yoga a regular practice and carry meditation to every moment of the day. Meditation helps you relax and become more aware of your body, so you can stay calm while doing yoga and be more aware of your every move. A mindful life can be very well established when these two support each other.