Today we live a fast-paced lifestyle with various tasks, responsibilities, stress, and unexplained fears. With all we have going on in our daily lives, dedicating time to relax and just taking care of ourselves can make a huge difference in your health and well-being. The two scientifically backed and most popular roads to self-care and mindfulness are yoga and meditation.
So, what is yoga? What is meditation? How are they kind of the same yet different? And if between yoga and meditation, you had to choose one, which one you would you pick?
If you are considering practicing either yoga or meditation (or even both), you will mentally, physically, and emotionally improve your life. And knowing the pros and cons of yoga and meditation will help you decide which one you need the most.
But first, we should discuss what they are. Read on to find out exactly what yoga and meditation are and their main benefits and differences, including their pros and cons.
See also: 12 Amazing Health Benefits Of Goat Yoga
Table of Contents
What is Yoga?
Yoga originated from the Sanskrit root “Yuj,” which means “to join,” “yoke,” or “to unite.” In addition, the practice of yoga focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body.
There are many breathing exercises and relaxing poses involved in the practice of yoga. And practicing yoga aims to keep your mind, body, and spirit healthy, helping you relax and deal with your physical and emotional tension.
Overall, yoga includes postures (a sequence of moves designed to increase flexibility and strength) and breathing.
See also: Can Actually You Practice Too Much Yoga?
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a mental state which involves cutting all distractions off and achieving the highest state of consciousness. In meditation, the main goal is to focus on the present and calm the mind.
Meditation is a part of yoga, as yoga involves mind-relaxing exercises that help one become very aware of the surroundings. During your meditation practice, you will observe your thoughts without judgment. In addition, meditation is like a workout for your mind.
So, if you are wondering what comes first, yoga or meditation? Generally, yoga comes first because relaxing poses and breathing exercises are required for reaching the highest state of consciousness.
7 Most Common Similarities Between Yoga and Meditation
There are a few similarities between yoga and meditation. You can choose yoga or meditation or practice them together.
1- Inner Peace
The main purpose of both yoga and meditation is to provide inner peace. Both of them are ancient practices and have been used as techniques for reducing stress and attaining inner peace.
Meditation is a spiritual practice to gain peace, while yoga is a physical practice to gain peace. Since yoga involves spiritual exercises; therefore, we can say that yoga is a form of meditation.
While practicing yoga and meditation, you gain inner peace. This inner peace helps you to connect with your inner self, and thus, you become more aware of your inner thoughts. So, both yoga and meditation make you self-aware.
3- Relieving Stress
Yoga and meditation are both used as stress-relieving activities. As yoga and meditation help you connect with yourself, you can understand your emotions well. This understanding of emotions removes a great deal of stress.
Generally, the best time to do yoga and meditation is in the morning, the hours before sunrise, or the early evening.
However, many experts say anytime you can meditate, or practice yoga is an excellent time to practice yoga and meditation.
Both yoga and meditation provide you with an escape from the busy world and urge you to focus on yourself more.
6- Location Free
You can practice yoga and meditation anywhere, in the comfort of your home, in the office, or while traveling.
7- Yoga vs. Meditation: End Goals
Yoga and meditation differ in their underlying goals:
- Mediation aims to attain internal stability by relaxing the mind and focusing on the present moment.
- On the contrary, the goal of yoga is not only obtaining inner stability but also physical stability. The yoga exercises help you to keep yourself fit both inside and outside.
Pros and Cons of Yoga
- Yoga improves balance and flexibility. Yoga makes your body more flexible. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be flexible to start yoga. With time, your body starts becoming naturally flexible. The Tree Pose is an excellent position to try.
- It increases your strength. Yoga strengthens your body. Some people believe that yoga is easy as its main purpose is to relax the body and mind. But the physical exercises involved in yoga require your muscle to work hard. Thus, it strengthens your body by strengthening your muscles.
- Yoga helps alleviate back pain. For instance, the American College of Physicians suggests yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
- Yoga helps you better manage your stress level: scientific evidence reveals that yoga supports stress management, mindfulness, mental health, healthy eating, weight loss, and quality sleep, according to the National Institutes of Health.
- Improves posture. All the physical exercises involved in yoga make your body flexible and improve your body posture as well. The people who practice yoga more have good body posture and shape.
- Yoga helps you sleep better. Regular bedtime yoga habits can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep, according to Johns Hopkins University.
- Mindfulness. Besides all the physical benefits of yoga, it also promotes mindfulness. While doing yoga, you are encouraged to pay attention to your breathing and thought processes. Thus, yoga also promotes harmony between the mind and body.
- Yoga can help you with weight loss; people who practiced yoga had a greater tendency to choose healthier foods, eat smaller portions, and reduce eating disorders, according to studies.
The cons of yoga are discussed below:
- Yoga, particularly in the advanced levels, requires your body to flex to the point where your muscles are stretching to their limit. Only practitioners who have been persistent in their yoga practice can achieve this without pain or damage because their muscles have slowly stretched.
- It can be expensive. Yoga can’t be properly practiced without seeking professional help. Taking yoga classes can be expensive for some people, and a home yoga teacher can even be more expensive.
- Injury risk. There is also an injury risk while practicing physical exercises, especially for beginners with less flexible bodies.
- Remember that you should slowly and gradually ease into the practice of yoga, and also, adopting a psychologically and physically healthy lifestyle involves a long-term commitment.
Pros and Cons of Meditation
- Emotional Control: As meditation makes you connect with your inner self, you eventually become aware of your emotional issues and the underlying reasons for them. Thus, you get to know how you can have emotional control over yourself.
- Meditation helps reduce stress, concluded one review study.
- Increases attention span. Studies show that the more people meditate, the more focused they stay. Focused attention meditation is similar to weight lifting for your attention span. It can increase the endurance and strength of your attention.
- Meditation enhances self-awareness. Practicing meditation can help you better understand yourself, helping you grow into your best self.
- Similar to yoga, meditation also improves sleep. Meditation helps people stay asleep longer and improves insomnia severity, according to a study.
- Meditation promotes kindness. Metta, a kind of meditation known as loving-kindness meditation, encourages developing kind feelings and thoughts toward yourself.
The following are some cons of meditation:
- Meditation can cause surprising adverse side effects, affecting practitioners’ emotions, social interaction, and sense of self, according to a 2017 study by researchers from Brown University and the University of California.
- Old memories: Meditation can relive the old memories you may not want to discuss.
- Might not be fruitful for some: Meditation can bring stress and fatigue in some people who find it difficult to sit down for a long time and just relax and think.
- According to a 2009 study from Seattle Pacific University, meditation made people feel delusional.
- Meditation can cause a lack of motivation, according to a 2017 study from Brown University and the University of California.
- People who meditate reported reliving traumatic experiences in the form of flashbacks, according to a 2009 study.
Yoga Vs. Meditation: Which One Should You Choose?
Yoga and meditation are both excellent. You can practice yoga and meditation together or separately and as often as you want.
- Choose to practice yoga if you want to build muscles, do physical exercises, or even lose weight. In addition, yoga postures alleviate physical discomforts, including stress, soreness, strain, and pain.
- And focus on practicing meditation if you want to feel harmony within yourself and find inner peace. The goal of practicing meditation is mental relaxation and concentration while focusing and observing your thoughts and breath.
With meditation, you can relax and reconnect with your inner self. In addition to relaxation, yoga focuses on physical conditioning; therefore, yoga is much more physical than meditation.
You can perform meditation and yoga anywhere, at home, in the office, with little to no guidance.