4 Ways Yoga Can Make Meditation Easier — and Why They're Better Together
You know how when you combine certain foods, it makes both more nutritious? The same concept applies to yoga and meditation. Practicing each alone is fantastic. But when you engage in both, you reap even more benefits from the two mind-body practices. Here’s how these two practices go hand in hand to create synergy.
The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation
Many people think of yoga as only a physical practice, and meditation as only a formal sitting practice. But yoga and meditation are not separate from each other, says Nam Chanterrwyn, E-RYT 500. “Traditionally, meditation is yoga, and, among other things, yoga is meditation.”
Therefore, when you practice both yoga and meditation, you may experience the following benefits.
1. Yoga encourages tuning in.
To outsiders, yoga looks like a series of postures to stretch your body, Chanterrwyn says. “But inwardly, the postures teach us how to be present in the moment. We learn to observe our physical experiences through our breath, to witness our emotional reactions through awareness of our thoughts, and to accept ourselves exactly how we are at any given moment.”
This can help you deal with anxiety. You could also learn to observe passing thoughts that arise during meditation without judgment — and return your attention to your breath or mantra.
2. Yoga is a ‘warm-up’ for meditation.
Many people who practice asana experience a better mood after yoga. But there’s more.
“In a lot of yogic traditions, the physical practice is meant to prepare one’s body for meditation,” Chanterrwyn explains. “For some, it can be used to strengthen their endurance, preparing them to endure a lengthy session of sitting stillness. For others, the physical practice tires their bodies and burns off their excess energy so that they can sit still for meditation.”
3. Meditation fosters mindful movement.
“At first, a meditation practice is an exercise in mindfulness, learning the skill of self-observation and awareness,” Chanterrwyn says. “And if there is not a mindfulness aspect to a yoga practice, then it is merely a practice of postural calisthenics.”
With a stronger mind-body connection and ability to focus no matter what others in class are doing, you can move more intentionally through the physical postures of a yoga sequence, leading to greater benefits of the practice.
4. Meditation helps you know when to push — and when to rest.
“As we become more experienced at meditation, we learn to control our mental and emotional reactions,” Chanterrwyn says. “This helps us in mindfully exploring our physical abilities and strength while skillfully navigating our limitations and challenges.”
On the mat, that can translate into knowing when your body is ready to bind in extended side angle and when it’s better to rest in child’s pose. Listening to your body in this way may help reduce the risk of yoga injuries and even help you be kinder to your body in other fitness classes.
Interested in experiencing this synergy between yoga and meditation yourself? Sound Meditation, led by Scarlett de la Torre, is perfect to calm your mind and body, and Yoga 52 has classes and programs for all goals and skill levels.
Within each 10- to 45-minute video, Scarlett creates soothing frequencies using “singing bowls” and other harmonic instruments. These videos are perfect for beginners and experienced meditators alike.