Yoga vs. Meditation – What is the Difference and Which to Choose?
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We can all agree that yoga and meditation help to rejuvenate your soul.

However, you may be under the impression that yoga and meditation are the same, but they encompass a few differences – and they can impact your health in different ways, too. So which practice will win your heart, your body, your mind in the yoga vs. meditation battle?

Let’s unravel the details together!

For a long time, I believed that folding my body into yoga poses also meant that I was meditating. I had no idea that meditation and yoga were two different things!

What is the difference between yoga and meditation?

Yoga brings your body through an array of physical movements, stretches, and poses, whereas meditation helps to elevate your mind to a newfound and enlightening awareness of yourself, spirituality, and your surroundings.

But, there’s more to the story than one simple difference! The yoga vs. meditation conversation also includes more complex differences.

Are you ready for the details?

women meditation on hill

The Difference Between Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and meditation work best when you practice one after the other, but it is possible to engage in both practices separately!

Therefore, it is vital to know the difference between meditation and yoga so you can eventually bridge the two together for ultimate benefits – which I will get to in a few paragraphs!

First, let’s take a look at meditation

You can practice meditation in the middle of your living room, on top of a mountain, or anywhere quiet and comfortable; you don’t need to roll out a yoga mat, put on your stretchy pants and sports bra to replenish and refresh your mind.

For a long time, I thought that there was only one form of meditation, but it turns out that there are a variety of techniques that can help to alleviate stress and boost your serotonin levels.

For example, if you feel animosity towards others or your job, you can opt to try out Metta meditation (loving-kindness meditation).

How Does Meditation Work

After you find a comfortable position, you take in a deep breath, open your mind, and focus on sending vibes of love, warmth, and gentleness to your friends, family, and your surrounding environment. In return, you may feel more appreciation for yourself!

If you suffer from anxiety and depressive episodes, you can practice mindful meditation, which you can do anywhere where you have a comfortable, quiet place.

What else do you need to do?

girl meditating by the sea

Once you find a quiet place, try to bask in silence for five to ten minutes – which can be hard, I know! It helps to focus on your breathing and to pay attention to when your mind jumps to a random thought. However, you don’t have to put yourself down for letting your mind wander, you can accept that it happened and shift your focus back to your deep inhales and exhales as well as the present moment.

It is important to note that meditation differs from mindful practices!

You can practice mindfulness in the grocery store, at the mall, at a football game, or wherever you so desire.

Whenever your mind focuses intensely on fear of the past or future or on anything other than reality, you can zero in on the present moment using mindfulness.

How?

If you are brushing your teeth, you can actively tell yourself, “Okay, I’m looking in the mirror. I see brown eyes and brown hair. Now, I am putting toothpaste on my toothbrush. I am lifting my toothbrush to my mouth. I am brushing my front teeth. Now, I am brushing my wisdom teeth. I am done brushing my teeth. I’m smiling at myself. I am washing my hands. I am opening the bathroom door. I am leaving the bathroom.”

You can continue narrating the present moment until your mind focuses on reality.

However, being aware of your surroundings differs from fully engaging in meditation.

If you want to reap the benefits of meditation, it is vital to find a comfortable space, to focus on your breathing, and to sit in complete silence for at least a few minutes.

After you’ve practiced meditation, you may notice that you feel less stress, an increase in self-awareness, a heightened ability to focus, as well as a positive mental shift and boost!

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Now, let’s take a moment to understand yoga.

How Does Yoga Work

If you want to increase your mobility while loosening your muscles, you can opt to sign up for a yoga class or practice some moves on your own!

Yoga not only helps to boost your flexibility, but it also helps to relax your entire body. However, yoga can benefit your body in a variety of ways – it can help with more than flexibility and mobility!

women helping do yoga

For example, did you know that moving between the cat-cow pose, downward dog pose, and planks for 30 to 40 minutes may boost your metabolism, which means your digestive system will work at a more efficient pace!

Does it get much better than a quick metabolism?

Not really!

And, doing yoga in the morning may even combat coffee cravings! If you want to energize your body naturally, you may want to try commencing your day with sun salutations and backbends.

Will you try to replace yoga with coffee?

It may be daunting, but it’s worth trying!

Yoga and meditation may possess similar benefits – they both reduce stress and help to enhance your focus – but they are two different things.

I used to think that the slow movements, the focus on staying in one pose for a long time, and other factors perpetuated natural meditation, but I now recognize that I was not sitting still and tapping into the deep end of my mind – I was not meditating.

Is Yoga a Form of Meditation

Yoga and meditation are different, but if you combine the two practices, you will reap many benefits!

After you’ve finished yoga, it is advised to move into pranayama, which is where you will practice breath control and engage in deep breathing exercises and when your body reaches a point of relaxation, you can slide into meditation.

However, nowadays, it is common for yoga classes to not include meditation at the end, which means that people are turning to Buddhism for meditative purposes. However, the Eight Limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras includes meditation, meaning that meditation has played an integral role in yoga for a long, long time. Therefore, it is best to practice the two together – they are meant to go hand-in-hand!

Yoga can be practiced without meditation (and vice-versa), but it was designed to include the art of meditation.

What happens to your body when you include meditation at the end of a yoga session?

Yoga helps to propel your body to a state relaxation whereas meditation boosts your mind to calm tranquillity, which can be a potent combination!

For example, yoga poses help you to become aware of your body and push you to realize that it is important to nourish your body, whereas meditation enables you to pay attention to what you are putting into your body.

The act of deep poses paired with meditation can also work to loosen stiff muscles (that may be causing other health issues) and combat stress and anxiety.

When you move your body into different poses, you become aware of what your body needs, and when you spend time in meditation, you become aware of what your mind needs, and more often than not, a stiff joint may be the cause of stress, so your mind and body can work together to loosen that muscle!

Yoga vs. Meditation – Which One is Better?

If you are injured or coming home from a long, long day of work in the late hours of the night, you may find that meditation works better for you in that circumstance.

Or if you want to focus on specific tasks or relieve your mind from stress, meditation will benefit you!

Meditation does not require any physical activity, but it may be difficult to sit still and focus for minutes at a time – it takes some practice!

If you want to strengthen your spine, lose weight, boost your metabolism, engage in purposeful exercise that connects your mind to your body, you may feel that yoga works better for you!

So Which One to Choose

It all depends on your situation, where you are if you are injured, and what you want to focus on for the day!

Which one wins the yoga vs. mediation battle? Both can benefit you in a variety of ways – yoga can help to propel your fitness and flexibility to new heights, whereas meditation can induce calm emotions.

However, Patanjali, the composer of the yoga sutras, records that mediation and yoga work best when practiced one after the other!

Do you prefer to meditate or to do yoga? Or both? Have you noticed a change within your body and mind since practicing meditation and yoga? Let us know which one works best for you in the comments below!

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