Yoga Vs Meditation: What’s The Difference And Which One Is The Best For You?

Yoga and meditation are two terms often used side by side in today’s modern world. However, not many people really know the distinction between the two. So, I wrote this article to help you differentiate one from the other and find out which one is the best for you.

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Yoga Vs Meditation

To better understand the difference between the two, let’s first learn their meanings.

1. Yoga

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In ancient Sanskrit, the word “yoga” literally means “union”, referring to that of the individual’s soul and the spirit of the universe or a higher being. However, it does not only mean this union but also the process to achieve it.

Yoga is a set of mental, physical, and spiritual disciplines that originated from India. The practice involves certain poses and breathing exercises. An ancient sage by the name of Patanjali formulated the following Eight Limbs of Yoga, one of which, as you’ll find out later, is meditation:

  • Yama- deals with ethical standards and integrity
  • Niyama- spiritual observance and self-discipline 
  • Asanas- positions, postures, or poses 
  • Pranayama- breathing control 
  • Pratyahara- sensory transcendence or withdrawal 
  • Dharana- concentration 
  • Dhyana- meditation 
  • Samadhi- spiritual ecstasy

2. Meditation

meditation

In contrast to concentration which involves focusing on one specific thing, meditation is putting the mind in a still and tranquil state and allowing it to lose all thoughts or become aware without focus.

The art or practice of meditation traces its roots from the Indian Vedic period and was practiced by ancient Hindus. In this practice, you basically train your mind to induce a higher level of consciousness or gain internal mental stability. The benefits of meditation mainly focus on your state of mind.

So, in other words, meditation can be considered as a part of the yoga experience. However, many people prefer to consider meditation as an entirely different practice. In fact, there is also such thing as yoga meditation.

Yoga Vs Meditation: What’s The Difference?

Regardless of considering each one separately or as part of the other, here are the key differences between yoga and meditation:

  • Yoga encourages all forms of stability while meditation only covers mental stability

Yoga is more holistic and involves mental, physical, external, internal, and spiritual stability whereas meditation focuses only on stabilizing the state of mind.

  • Yoga is largely physical while meditation is mental

In yoga, there is much focus on the different positions of the body and the breathing patterns. This is why yoga also helps in weight loss, heart health, and improving muscle strength and flexibility.

When meditating, however, one is required to exercise the brain or the mind instead of the body. It draws self-learning, reflection, connection, and relaxation from one’s mind. So, while yoga still benefits the brain and mind, these effects are more prominent when doing meditation.

  • Yoga is physically exhausting

Yoga, especially today’s westernized version of it, is a form of exercise itself. It typically requires you to balance your body, achieve certain positions, and maintain a breathing pattern, all the while trying to maintain your peace and concentration.

If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s always been so mind-boggling to me how simply posing, and slowly changing positions can produce so much sweat!

Meditation, on the other hand, is more restful and though there’s still some breathing exercises and usually a single, comfortable pose, you don’t really need to bother about moving around.

  • Yoga is done with movements while meditation is usually performed without moving

In yoga, you change positions now and then, in accordance with the exercise. When you meditate, you are encouraged to maintain a single pose and not move at all. Often, this is done by sitting cross-legged on the floor a.k.a the Indian sitting style and staying in one place. Therefore, you might want to invest in a good meditation cushion.

Yoga Vs Meditation: Which One Is Better?

Well, the answer to that question depends on what you want to achieve. If you really want to focus on calming your mind, recover from mental illness, improve your mental health, and work on handling your emotions better, meditation is probably your best bet.

If you want to tone your body as well as get in touch with your inner self and mind, you should give yoga a shot.

Benefits Of Yoga And Meditation

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While each one has its own advantages, many experts practice and highly recommend doing both yoga and meditation together. Multiple studies have proven that doing this allows you to reap all of the combined benefits listed below.

  • Improved spinal flexibility which helps in the treatment of chronic lower back pain within only a week
  • Enhanced health of muscles, joints, and bones as well as the reduction of rheumatoid arthritis through the performance of slow and easy-paced, low impact movements 
  • Cure for headaches and hangover by reversing blood circulation and boosting your metabolism 
  • Improvement of heart health and reduced risk of getting cardiovascular diseases by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, encouraging normal blood flow, relaxing your blood vessels, reducing the levels of stress hormones, and assisting in the removal of arterial plaque 
  • Recovery from asthma, treatment of asthma, or reduced severity of symptoms through the respiratory benefits of breathing techniques 
  • Improved metabolism and digestion as well as reduction of stress-related onset of irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease by helping your food move along in your digestive system through twisting poses 
  • More restful periods of sleep and better sleeping patterns by reducing stress and anxiety levels 
  • Boost in emotional health and reduction of symptoms or mood swings related to insomnia, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and menopause 
  • Cure for migraines and headaches by relaxing the tension of your shoulder and neck muscles 
  • Improved brain function, memory, concentration, and mental clarity by eliminating brain “clutters” and negative thoughts 
  • Better stress management and reduction of panic attacks, anxiety, agoraphobia, and other stress-related disorders 
  • Increased flexibility through movements that stretch and lengthen the muscles and joints 
  • By promoting a healthier mind and body and better self-esteem, yoga and meditation are also found to help you become more aware of your eating habits, allowing you to take better care of your body 
  • Improved overall health through the reduction of stress levels, offering a whole body exercise, relaxation, mental connection, and a holistic well-being

Conclusion

When comparing yoga vs meditation, your personal goals are what will determine which one will be best suited for you. If you want to maximize your discovery of your mind and body, why not try both? You might be surprised at how much this single decision can change your life!

Emily Brathen
 

Hi there! I'm Emily Brathen. I am a fitness and yoga instructor and a mom of one. Despite my hectic schedule, I still find time for doing the thing I love most - fitness and yoga. I love doing and teaching fitness and yoga because in my own little way, I am able to encourage people to take health and fitness back into their own hands.

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