The first known record of meditation and yoga meditation as disciplines dates back more than 5000 years. Both yoga and meditation practices originated in northern India; we know this because both yoga and meditation are mentioned in some very old texts which are known as the Rig Veda.
It is estimated that today, the physical practice of yoga and meditation are regularly engaged in by more than 500 million people worldwide. That’s a lot of people with benefits of group meditation. Maybe they knew something we don’t. Let’s find out, shall we?
The physical aspect of yoga and meditation can be combined with controlled breathing. Doing this while keeping your eyes closed to focus attention, can be a very powerful tool. Additionally, the therapeutic benefits of yoga and yoga meditation can assist in the reduction in the severity of some physical issues such as hypertension, sleep problems and anxiety, all the while building a stronger immune system. It’s all good.
Mindfulness Meditation Meaning
The term “mindfulness” is used here in conjunction with meditation, and simply means the focus of attention on an activity you are doing in the present moment. Mindful meditation yoga is achieving a meditative state through the practice of mindfulness meditation can also help calm some common chronic mental health issues that occur, especially to those new to addiction recovery, such as anxiety and depression. It is for this reason that mindfulness meditation is highly recommended.
Reduction of stress is extremely vital to our overall health. Because we live in a very high demand, high stress world, developing the ability to occasionally relax our body and mind once in a while are more important than ever.
The term chronic, as used here, means the condition has lasted for a while or seems to recur regularly. Chronic stress is considered to be a serious health issue, and is known to cause other more serious conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and arthritis.
Yoga vs Meditation
Some additional benefits of a regular meditation practice include, but are not limited to, a sense of well being. This in turn can generate a feeling of self-acceptance or a capacity for self-love. This too is a vital ingredient for someone new in recovery.
It has been said that one of the first benefits of meditation is emotional sobriety, a quality sorely lacking in many individuals, especially those new to addiction recovery. If you don’t believe that, see how far you get driving the speed limit on the freeway of your choice, before being approached by someone who, more likely than not, is lacking in this quality.
Meditate for Spirituality
Yoga versus meditation can be the key that unlocks the mysterious dimension of spirit we all posses. Luckily for many of us in recovery there is no mandate about the type of spirituality we find. Meditation is a way to calm our overworked nervous system and lessen the constant river of mental activity we all suffer from. In this way, we are more able to explore our inner selves. Some refer to this practice as yoga mindful meditation.
Addiction recovery is the process by which we discover who we really are underneath the façade we present to the world to try and fool ourselves or others that we are OK.
There can be too much static and noise in our daily lives. Meditation can be the way to discover and accept ourselves. Through the practice of meditation, we get in touch with our inner selves, or spirit, if you will. This work is actually what is commonly referred to as the “spiritual aspect” of recovery.
Beginning a mindfulness meditation practice in order to slow our thought process will almost immediately produce a reduction in our stress level, which also has a positive effect on our overactive nervous system. Improving our ability to focus on the present moment also allows us to experience the pleasant physical sensations of peace we begin to experience through mindfulness meditation.
Focus the “Monkey Mind”
As stated previously, calming the body and mind through meditation helps to increase our ability to focus and concentrate. Our minds can sometimes behave like agitated monkeys, swinging quickly from worry to guilt to shame, and then back again.
This lack of concentration can limit our ability to focus these overactive “monkey minds” we have. This can, in turn, drastically decrease energy levels, and our experience of the present moment. Seeing as how the present moment is where everything happens, you may not want to miss it.
Yoga and Breath Work
Pranayama practice is one method that can be employed to calm the mind. The word Pranayama is from Sanskrit and literally means regulation of the breath. Control of the breath is one of the main components of both yoga and meditation.
Try using pranayama if you find yourself ruminating, or are having trouble moving on from a negative space. When you find yourself lost in thought, you can come back to the present moment any time. Try using controlled breath to achieve a relaxed state, especially when you may be feeling ‘Hangry,’ (hungry/angry).
The idea here is to breathe in for a count of five, let’s say. Then hold it for a count of five, then release for the same length. Repeat this several times. Try it, it really works!
Seated Meditation Practice
The act of meditating is usually depicted wherein the individual sits cross legged on the floor, or a cushion. However, those of us with bad joints have found it is also possible to meditate successfully while comfortably seated in a chair. Or even lying down. So, no worries there.
The word Asana simply refers to a specific body posture, and was originally used to indicate a sitting meditation pose. Now, the term Asana can mean any physical pose such as sun salutations (Google it) or any other body position held either during meditation or while engaged in yoga.
Asana Practice during meditation can involve either sitting, standing, lying down or walking. But that’s it. So driving, eating, surfing the internet or watching TV do not count.
How to Start Meditating
To begin, we must first find a quiet space to explore this new aspect of our being. There are any number of different ways to begin to meditate. One way is to turn your attention to a particular object; if you are outside a tree works, or if you are inside you can use a house plant.
Also, if possible, it helps to use the same place every time to practice. Sitting quietly, you can begin concentrating on a particular object as mentioned, or begin to notice the point where the breath comes into your body and just notice that, or you can count the breath, one through ten, and repeat.
The two practices of yoga and meditation combined are also a great way to exercise. Yoga strengthens muscles, improves balance and aids in the relief of an overactive mind.
You can engage in yoga practice either at home, at the office while working, or by simply joining a yoga class.
Additionally, a yoga class has the added benefit of providing a social connection. We humans are social creatures, even if we won’t admit it. The benefits of yoga spiritually offer a connection with others on a spiritual basis that is beneficial to our mental stability as well as physical health.
Physical Benefits of Yoga Meditation
The physical benefits of yoga meditation should be apparent the next day when you get out of bed. You too will experience the joys of sore muscles, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while!
Yoga combined with meditation is a popular form of practice. The two practices go well together, and yoga is considered to be a “moving meditation” all by itself. A wonderful way to meditate is to hold a yoga position, such as Downward Dog, for a while. Work your way up to 2 minutes, and watch your resentments fade away.
Yoga and Stress Relief
Yoga practice can also help to decrease physiological stress and arousal in the body. For example, meditation combined with a regular yoga practice can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce inflammation in the body and aid in reducing chronic pain issues.
Hatha Yoga Practice for Beginners
Because it is paced slower than other yoga forms, Hatha yoga classes are best suited for beginners to start to practice yoga and meditation. These beginner type classes are a great way to learn to combine breathing and exercise with meditation.
Additionally, the practice of yoga can boost the production of beneficial hormones that result in pleasant mental and physical feelings. The physical effort of the movements in yoga, and the effort of holding the poses can really boost positive feelings of well being.
And this happens during yoga due to the production of “feel good” hormones such as endorphins, serotonin, and everyone’s fav – dopamine. It’s why exercise can so be addictive; plus there is absolutely no hang over. Oh yeah!
In addition to the chemicals produced by the body during yoga, the physical element of a regular yoga practice can also aid the student in working through pain, joint stiffness, and muscle tension which can, of course help one to relax, post work out.
Combining Yoga and Meditation
Combining yoga and meditation literally has all the benefits of each practice. The meditation part of yoga is known formally as Shavasana, which is generally referred to as “corpse pose”. Shavasana is done at the end of a yoga practice, when exhausted students lie face-up on the ground, eyes closed, with limbs spread comfortably outward, like a corpse. Though calling it Shavasana sounds better.
The Difference Between Yoga and Meditation Practice
One difference between yoga and meditation is that yoga demands purposeful physical movements of the body, such as stretching, and holding specific yoga poses. This in turn strengthens core muscles and improves balance.
Yoga at times demands engaging our body in strenuous physical motion, when we may not feel like it. Therefore, sticking to a regular practice will develop qualities of discipline and perseverance with which you can impress everyone.
Yoga practices also incorporate more effort such as physical poses and control of the breath, than meditation alone.
A regular meditation practice can involve taking some time out of our busy lives to sit still and be quiet for 20 minutes, when we may want to engage in more non-stimulating avoidance behaviors such as watching mind-numbing TV or playing video games.
Mantras are self empowering statements which should be repeated on a daily basis. They can be used to build self-confidence, self-esteem and a more positive attitude. An example of this can be to remind yourself when you are stressed that everything will be okay.
The repetition of mantras completely focuses the mind, offering a means of getting an insight into spirituality, and can generate mental health benefits. These concepts are age-old practices, for good reason.
A Physical Practice
Physical yoga practice will eventually payoff in multiple ways. An increase in self-awareness and acquiring new stress management skills, achieved through increased mindfulness, which enhances our ability to experience the present moment. Additionally we can reduce our negativity, and increase our creativity, while practicing more patience and tolerance with others. And lastly and most importantly – improving sleep quality.
Hopefully this article has been helpful to those seeking a peaceful place from which to find serenity and an improved outlook.
Turning Point of Tampa
As a Joint Commission accredited facility in Tampa, Florida, we have been helping people and their families find recovery for over 35 years. We have the pleasure of working with both veterans and civilians seeking a life of recovery from the devastation of alcoholism and addiction.
We instill the promise of hope for recovery within each client. If you or a loved one need immediate help, please contact us directly. We have staff available to speak with you 7 days a week.