11 Jan How Yoga and Meditation Benefit the Mind and Body
It is rightly said, “Health is the greatest wealth.” But how many of you actually take good care of your well-being? Also, health is not only physical fitness but mental and emotional fitness as well. But today, owing to increased work pressure, untimely meals and hectic lifestyles, people are going through various psychological and physiological stressors.
So, have you ever thought of you can put an end to this and achieving a healthy physical and mental state? Well, we have a solution for you. It is Yoga and meditation. These are both ancient practices which date back more than 5,000 years old. With regular practice of Yoga and meditation, you can become physically and mentally strong, resilient and stress-free. Let’s understand what is Yoga and meditation, the difference between the two and their benefits.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ which means union. Yoga helps in bringing harmony between the mind, body and soul. Yoga includes asanas (postures), kriyas, pranayamas, and relaxation techniques. Yoga has a 360-degree holistic approach towards mental and physical wellness. The practice of Yoga creates self-awareness in a person which helps him to connect with his breath and calm the monkey mind.
Yoga comes with numerous benefits. The practice of asanas and relaxation techniques when carried out with complete awareness can yield magical results.
Benefits of Yoga
The rapidity and fast pace of life often take a toll on the balance of the mind which sometimes translates into physical illnesses. Yoga is one such form of practice which releases stress from the physical joints and muscles while simultaneously relaxing the tensed nerves of the mind.
1) Increases flexibility & strength: The practice of asanas involves moving the body which helps in loosening stiff muscles. When the body is exercising regularly, one gains strength and flexibility over a period of time.
2) Improves posture: On a daily basis, you often sit, stand and sleep in a posture which is hampering your various organs of the body and especially the spine. With asana practice, you build core strength which helps you to sit and stand in the correct posture. Also, with better awareness, you correct yourself when you tend to slouch or bend.
3) Better heart health: With regular asana practice, the body and mind begin to relax and stress levels reduce. Additionally, after asanas, one feels fresh, energetic and in a happy mood. All these factors lead to better heart health as it lowers high blood pressure levels and slows the heart rate.
4) Reduces stress: People often go through anxiety, increased stress levels and depression owing to a lack of work-life balance. This stress when left untreated can lead to physical illnesses. With the practice of asanas and breathing exercises, one learns to become mindful, focus on the positive and avoid unnecessary thoughts which yield no results. When the mind becomes quiet, the stress levels go down and a person learns to manage their stressors effectively.
5) Strengthens immune system: When the mind and body are in a better state through the practice of Yoga, the immune system automatically strengthens. With better core strength, improved functioning of the organs, reduced stress and increased happiness, the body begins to operate in the right manner.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that involves relaxing the mind, becoming mindful and developing awareness. Meditation is an art which needs time, effort and regular practice. Meditation is usually practiced after asanas practice to provide deep relaxation.
If you want to practice meditation, here’s how you can do it
Take a mat and sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and first try to center yourself. Often, when you start to meditate, all sorts of thoughts will enter your mind. The art is to focus and bring your attention to the present moment. Meditation helps you to connect with yourself and the higher self. It trains you to be in the present moment, be positive and grateful in life. Most importantly, it calms your mind and reduces unwanted negative thoughts and stress.
Benefits of Meditation
The practice of meditation teaches you to observe your thoughts and witness your behaviour. Meditation isn’t about running away from your thoughts but witnessing them and understanding why you behaved the way you did. Such kind of approach helps you to lead a healthy, happy and stress-free life. Meditation is a technique that increases concentration, patience, improves mood and boosts happiness, reduces stress. Below are the various benefits of meditation.
1) Improves self-awareness: When you close your eyes, center yourself and try to focus and observe, you learn to understand yourself, your approach and behavior. Such awareness helps you to respond in the right manner, improve your speech and correct your thoughts. Eventually, you bring in more positive feelings and reduce emotions of loneliness and dissatisfaction.
2) Increases focus: With regular meditation practice, you develop more focus and attentiveness. This increased concentration helps you to perform your tasks in an effective way. This happens because meditation helps in improving memory and attention span when practiced regularly.
3) Lowers stress levels: There are various reasons for one to develop stress. This affects the productivity and functioning of a person. When one practices meditation, the mind is trained to shift the focus from negative to positive. It learns to look at solutions rather than problems. When the attitude and approach towards a situation are changed for the better, one is better equipped to deal with stress. Meditation practice brings clarity which helps in understanding the triggers of stress and finding better solutions.
4) Generates confidence, kindness, fulfilment and willpower: There are many instances in day-to-day life wherein a person doubts his/her abilities. When one begins to meditate, he/she slowly begins to believe in oneself. They realize that the power resides within them and they can deal with any kind of situation. Also, with an improved understanding of the self and others, one begins to generate empathy and kindness. Instead of being rude and impolite, you learn to be patient. Meditation practice teaches you to be a better version of yourself. It makes you feel whole, happy, contented and a better human being.
5) Overall health development: When the mind is free from negative thoughts and stress, the mental and physical will begin to improve on its own. Meditation creates awareness which helps you to think, act and behave the right way. You eat mindfully; take care of your physical and mental health. With meditation, you begin to see changes in all areas of your life starting from health, and relationships to work.
Difference between Yoga and Meditation
Though Yoga and meditation provide a few similar benefits, however, they are not the same kind of practice.
1) Yoga is a practice which involves physical as well as mental activity. Yoga includes asanas practice to increase physical strength, stamina, endurance and flexibility. It involves techniques which include physical training and strengthening and mental training also come as it helps one to focus on the breath and bring attention to the present.
Meditation is complete mental training including relaxation and concentration techniques. This practice teaches one to train their mind by correcting their thinking patterns and observing their thoughts and actions.
2) Yoga is a way of life which adopts a holistic approach to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth. Yoga includes eight limbs – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dhyana, Dharana and Samadhi. Meditation is just one part of Yoga which includes relaxation and concentration techniques.
Yoga and meditation are two practices which can assist you in leading a life which is free from stress, illnesses and negativity. Begin your practice to invite peace and happiness into your life. Start slow but stay consistent in your practice and aim to be better versions of yourself.