What is meditation and how can it enhance your yoga practice?

There’s a lot of different benefits you can get from yoga, and many of them expand past the physical body. If you started yoga with a focus on shaping your muscles or improving your flexibility, there may be a load of benefits you’ve yet to explore. May of these come from the meditative practice integrated throughout yoga classes. But what is meditation and how can you use it to improve your workouts and your life?

What is meditation?

Meditation is a way of connecting with ourselves. As explained by Headspace “it’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective”. When you meditate, you’re taking the time to sit and be, which can affect your consciousness, bring you into the space around you, connect you with the present moment. Meditation isn’t a new idea – in fact it’s thought to have been developed thousands of years ago. When you think of meditation, the image that comes to mind might be sitting still with your back straight and eyes closed. While this is an option, there’s more than one way to meditate. You can meditate sitting, laying down, or you can even do a moving meditation Each of these options gives you the opportunity to connect further with yourself.

The benefits of meditation

There’s a lot of reasons you might want to try meditating. Meditation helps to reduce stress, which can help when the pressure of life is getting overwhelming. Meditation can help you focus, so you might be able to accomplish more in a timely manner. Meditation can help you sleep, so if you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep you might want to give it a try. There’s even research to suggest that meditation can change our brains, affecting the prefrontal cortex which controls decisions, the amygdala which controls emotions, the hippocampus which controls memory and learning, as well as grey matter. Considering how many areas of your life these areas of your brain effect, you can imagine how much power meditation yields.

Meditation’s role in yoga

You might be wondering what this all has to do with your yoga practice. Odds are, if you’ve been coming to yoga regularly, you’ve already learned a little something about meditation. You may have been to a yoga class that incorporates specific time to meditate into the class. Shavasana, or corpse pose, where yoga classes tend to end is a type of meditation itself. Even if this isn’t the case, there’s meditative aspects of yoga, like “a connection between mind, body, and breath”. Like meditating, yoga connects you to your body, your mind, and the world around you in the precise moment you’re living in. By learning more about meditation, you may be able to better realize when there’s a meditative aspect of your yoga class, and in doing so be able to gain more benefits from both your yoga and meditation practice.

Expanding your meditation practice

In addition to meditating during yoga class, you may find it useful to use the introduction to meditation you’re receiving as an opportunity to start meditating outside of yoga class as well. Whether it’s to start off your day on the right foot, or it’s for when you don’t have time to make it in to yoga class, learning more about meditation could allow you to find some of the mental peace yoga can bring.