The Incredible Health Benefits of Yoga and Meditation

When it comes to health and wellness, there’s one thing to always keep in mind; both your mental wellness and physical wellness are important. You can’t be as healthy as possible if either one isn’t as well as it could be, which means that you have to take care of both equally.

There are many things that you can do to stay healthy physically and mentally, no doubt. Eating healthy, whole foods and drinking plenty of water, for instance, will keep your body healthy. Exercising regularly is another way to do it. For your mind, thinking healthy thoughts, staying positive and taking supplements that are good for the brain are all excellent suggestions.

With all of that in mind, there are two health and wellness practices that, for all intents and purposes, outrank almost everything else; yoga and meditation. In today’s article, we’re going to take a closer look at both of these amazing practices, why they’re so important and how they can help you stay in peak condition both physically and mentally.

The (More Than Basic) Definition of Yoga

Yoga, at its most basic, is a set of physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated eons ago in ancient India. While some people might place yoga firmly in the “exercise” column of health and wellness practices, it’s really so much more. Yes, practicing yoga regularly can give you a very physically fit, slim and trim body. (There’s no doubt about that!) What it also can do, however, is calm your mind, boost your spirit and give you a much stronger sense of self-worth.

Yoga Is So Much More Than Exercise

The reason yoga can bring both physical and mental wellness together is that it engages you completely while you’re practicing it. You have to get involved, participate and connect. Yoga is, at its heart, a process, not a routine. It’s very active and, when you’re engaged in it, you’re creating a kind of relationship with the universe.

Indeed, as you practice yoga a new situation unfolds every time and this gives you the ability to act in that specific situation. During every yoga session, you make choices and learn from those choices, especially choices about the way you move, speak and think. In many ways, yoga and meditation are very similar because you have to be both physically and mentally engaged in each 100% to get the most benefit out of them.

Yoga is Much More Engaging Than Most Exercise Routines

Rather than, say, running on a treadmill and staring at a TV, practicing yoga is a mental, emotional and spiritual experience that involves your entire body and your entire being. You simply can’t do it any other way. You’re forced to deal with your thoughts and emotions, how your body is feeling and what you need to do to work through it. That’s why many elite athletes use yoga because they know how important it is to connect their physical well-being with their mental and emotional well-being.

Unlike most other physical exercises, you don’t practice yoga by jumping on a yoga mat or going to a class. What really matters is what happens while you’re practicing yoga and how you connect to that process and pay attention to it. Think of it more like a back-and-forth activity with one force driving the other as you go through all of the yoga poses and motions.

Learning To Perform Yoga Takes Time, Energy and Determination

Here’s the thing; practically anyone that’s in good physical health can learn how to perform yoga. That being said, to perform yoga extremely well and reap all of its amazing benefits, it’s going to take some time, energy and determination on your part. In short, you can’t learn to do yoga overnight.

Most yoga masters have been practicing yoga for over a decade or more and get better at it all the time. The good news is that you can learn a lot in your own home simply by watching yoga videos on YouTube.

On the other hand, if you have a yoga studio in your hometown we suggest very highly that you take at least a few lessons. That way, you can learn from an expert, and the expert can correct you in person if you’re performing any yoga poses incorrectly. The last thing you want to do is perform a yoga pose the wrong way and either hurt yourself or get lesser results for your time and effort.

What Are the Different Types of Yoga?

Yoga has been around, as we mentioned, for eons and, during that time, several distinct forms have emerged. They include:

  • Hatha yoga
  • Ashtanga yoga
  • Bikram Yoga
  • Restorative yoga
  • Yin yoga
  • Kundalini yoga
  • Vinyasa yoga
  • Lyengar yoga

We’re not going to go into the definitions of all these different types of yoga today. Suffice to say that, if you practice them correctly, you’ll get the same spiritual, physical and mental health benefits from all of them.

The (More Than Basic) Definition of Meditation

Meditation may be a bit harder to describe than yoga simply because there are so many different definitions of what it is. One thing’s for sure; meditation, like yoga, has been around for a very long time. It’s practiced all over the world in many different cultures and ties into many different religious teachings.

That being said, don’t think that meditation is all about faith. It’s more about aligning your consciousness, finding a higher awareness of who and what you are and using that awareness to achieve peace in your mind and spirit.

Meditation is an excellent remedy for stress which, these days, is truly a massive problem. More than that, though, meditation is a way to find out more about yourself, calm your mind, solve problems in your life and improve your relationships.

One thing that scares many people off from doing meditation is that they fear they won’t be able to do it “the right way”. The fact is, however, there really isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to meditate. Instead, it demands that you find a way that fits your specific needs as well as complementing your unique personality.

Just like yoga, there are several different types of meditation that you can use and, if you wish, combine. They include:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Spiritual meditation
  • Mantra meditation
  • Transcendental meditation
  • Focused meditation
  • Movement meditation

As with yoga, if you practice all of these different forms of meditation correctly, you’ll get all of the health benefits that they provide.

Mediation, Like Yoga, Is a Skill

Some people think that meditation is “easy to learn” and that “anyone can do it”. Both of those are close to the truth and also far from it. As with anything that provides true value, learning to meditate is like learning any other skill. And, without a doubt, meditation is a skill. It takes a lot of practice before you can become an expert and get comfortable performing it. It’s also a good idea to learn from a meditation expert if possible.

What Are the Health Benefits of Meditation?

For something that you can do free in your own home, meditation offers a plethora of amazing health benefits. For example, meditation has been shown to significantly reduce stress and reduce the inflammation that it causes. Speaking of which, meditation has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress in people with medical conditions that are triggered by it. Some of the other amazing health benefits of meditation include:

  • It helps you control your anxiety.
  • It enhances your self-awareness.
  • It can help lengthen your attention span.
  • It’s been shown to reduce age-related memory loss.
  • Research suggests that it can help fight addictive behavior
  • It can improve your sleep.
  • It helps you control pain.
  • It can help you decrease your blood pressure.

What Are the Health Benefits of Yoga?

Like meditation, yoga offers a huge variety of physical and mental health benefits. You can also do it at home for free. Not only will you be able to get your body into superior physical shape (and look amazing), yoga can also:

  • Significantly improve your flexibility.
  • Improve your respiration, energy and vitality.
  • Help you with reducing your weight.
  • Protect yourself from injuries when exercising.
  • Improve your cardio and circulatory health.
  • Significantly increase your muscle strength and muscle tone.

Yoga and Meditation Alone Could Change Your Life

Here’s something to think about; if all you did was practice yoga every day along with meditating every day, you could be one of the healthiest people on the planet. Yes, you still need to eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water, but that kind of goes without saying.

The truth is, yoga and meditation are so incredibly powerful and deliver so many physical and mental health benefits, you almost don’t need to do anything else in order to attain a very high state of wellness.

You’re Not a Yoga or Meditation Expert…Yet

What you’ve just read is sort of like a starter course on yoga and meditation. You now know that both are excellent for your health and well-being but, besides that, you don’t really know how to use them or how to perform either one.

Frankly, that’s not what the article was about. It was more about introducing you to both of these amazing and healthy life practices and why you should be using both of them regularly in your own life. If we’ve convinced you to start either one today, we feel that we’ve done our job. (And we sure hope we did.)

In any case, we truly hope that you enjoyed this article and that it did convince you to try both yoga and meditation for yourself. We use both of them almost daily and the changes that they’ve made in our lives here have been significant.

If you have any questions about yoga or meditation please let us know. Also, if you have any stories or anecdotes about your experience with either one, please share them with us and we’ll make sure to share them with our readers. Thanks! 

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