Yoga and Meditation! What to chose and what to lose?
For centuries, yoga and meditation have been adopted by people across the world for a healthier life. An integral part of Indian upbringing, yoga and meditation are often interpreted as one.
If you are planning to switch to a healthier lifestyle and are confused over options spread all across the internet, I am here again to help you with making a right choice for yourself.
Going healthy the Indian style is a wonderful idea as it requires no extra bucks and gives you a healthy mind and body, absolutely free. Let’s explore the world of yoga and meditation and find out what suits you better for a healthy life.
Difference between yoga and meditation; yes, they are not synonyms
Yoga dates back to the Vedic era and is known to be a complete system designed to keep a human body healthy, stable and mindful. Meditation is a limb of yoga with its seven counterparts.
Yoga is much more than meditation, it comprises eight limbs, meditation being one of them. Yoga includes breathing exercises, physical exercises, diet modules, preventions and codes of conduct designed for a perfectly healthy lifestyle.
Apart from being a limb of yoga, meditation is a vast subject on its own. Meditation is a process related more to the psychological self of human beings and is very varied. Below are the bullets to highlight the major difference between yoga and meditation:
Clear the myths
- Yoga is a disciplined structure especially designed for human body whereas meditation can be as natural as the practitioner wants it to be.
- Yoga includes meditation as a part of its eight limbs whereas meditation alone is a deep subject of study.
- Yoga strictly belongs to Indian sub-continent and is an integral part of Indian philosophy whereas meditation is universal.
- Yoga comprises breathing and physical exercises and meditation does not follow any such disciplines.
- Following yoga involves rules and codes but meditation has its own rules for its practitioner.
Yoga is based on eight limbs or parts which teach about moral behaviour of a person, rules one must follow, physical exercises, breathing techniques, preventions and diet, concentration techniques, meditation and merging with divinity.
Generally, many just follow the exercise and meditation part of yoga and hence get convinced with the wrong notion that yoga is just exercises and meditation. Also meditation is sometimes confused with concentration but concentration is just a single part of meditation which can be taken up as a choice by the practitioner.
Let’s know about Yoga
Yoga is much more than physical exercises, it has eight limbs as yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
Yama: The moral code of conduct one should follow in their lives.
Niyama: The rules one should follow in life.
Asana: The physical exercises to keep your body fit.
Pranayama: The breathing exercise and breathe control techniques.
Pratyahara: The habits that we should abstain from for a healthy life.
Dharana: This comprises of practices that we hold on, focus and concentration.
Dhyana: Dhyana is meditation or deep delving into the six practices.
Samadhi: It is the last stage of yoga which aims to attain divinity of mind, body and soul.
So, to learn yoga completely, one has to follow these stages or steps one by one in order. However, most practitioners have invented their own branches comprising all eight or lesser limbs and have been teaching them accordingly.
Meditation is universal
Meditation is a natural phenomenon. Scholars and practitioners over the world have found their own ways of meditating and have taught and preached them over centuries.
Indians have meditation as a part of yoga philosophy and is the last stage before attaining divinity. It is said to be practiced after mastering the other six limbs preceding it.
Out of many branches and forms of meditation, I am elaborating the most effective and popular ones for you below, as you proceed in your quest you will be able to explore much more on your own. Take a look…
Meditation in Yoga – Dhyana
Meditation in India is looked upon as a process of concentrating on God or divinity. The oldest concept of meditation or Dhyana is specifically about concentrating your mind on a particular object of worship, deity or a syllable (mostly OM).
Indians firmly believe on objectifying their beliefs and Hindus have created allegories to identify their Gods. The idea of Indian meditation is to reach the state of transcendence with the help of focusing on these allegories as they are easily related with common man. Also, the sounds of syllables used in chanting are effective in soothing the mind of the practitioner.
This meditation focuses on doing daily chores mindfully and doing one thing at a time. Mindful meditation says if you are simply brushing your teeth do it mindfully.
Concentrate completely on just brushing your teeth, don’t think about anything else. Just feel the toothpaste in your mouth, to and fro movement of your toothbrush, the taste of the toothpaste, how the toothbrush must be cleaning and purifying each of your teeth and gums and likewise.
However easy it may look, mindful meditation can be quiet difficult because normally our minds are not tuned to focus on a single thought continuously and we tend to think about other things while doing one thing at a time.
So mastering the art of mindful meditation can be a long journey to achieve. The bottom line of mindful meditation is to practically live in the moment.
This is yet another boon from the Indian school of meditation and it related to higher forms of tantra. Tantra is an ancient science taught in India. It is a comparatively secret study and is known to be imparted only to selected students.
However, general Kundalini meditation can be done by all by just gathering basic information. Kundalini meditation focuses on seven energy centres of our body that are present at seven different points starting from the base of the spinal cord till the crown of the head.
Kundalini meditation teaches us to combat self-guilt, depression, anxiety, stress, health issues, fear and insecurity. It helps us to build confidence – in self and that in others, trust, sense of belongingness, firmness, self-worth and love.
Music meditation can be as vast and as concise as you want it to be. Music meditation is not limited to any definition and can be moulded according to the practitioners’ choice. Clearing your mind by just listening to music is music meditation.
There are certain sounds and music tracks suggested for deeper trance but one can follow his own heart and listen to any form of music that soothes his/her heart or soul. However, music of certain frequencies are said to be helpful in directing the nerves of the brain to be calm and instantly turn your mind peaceful.
Continuous practice of music meditation will lead you to a stage where you may fall into instant trance after switching on the particular music that you follow and you will find your mind absolutely bereft of thoughts.
This type of meditation requires an area with greenery and plants. Forests or natural parks are best to practice this kind of meditation. Some practitioners also prefer beaches or places having water bodies like bank of river or lakes.
Natural surroundings and water bodies create an atmosphere of serenity for the practitioner who in turn experiences a sense of calmness, peace and solace. The mind becomes free of negative and disturbing thoughts; the practitioner learns to appreciate the beauty of nature and acknowledges the simplicity of life.
Natural meditation helps the practitioner to realize the basic law of life and presents the absolute and simple truth of the mortal world. The practitioner gets rid of his tensions, stress and anxiety. Natural meditation heals the practitioner from his/her inner weakness and worries.
As the name says, this meditation is based on chanting a particular mantra or phrase repeatedly. This is a popular form of meditation as many who find it difficult to clear their mind of thoughts in silence can easily concentrate on a particular sound that they repeat themselves. There are many mantras that are known to be powerful and effective in cleansing ones thoughts and mind. Several mantras also have the power to strengthen the inner self and boost self confidence in the practitioners’ mind.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga has a lot to offer in terms of physical strength and mental stability. When it comes to meditation, once you adopt it, you feel energetic, motivated and confident to deal anything and everything in life.
By now I believe it must be clear in your mind about the basic difference in yoga and meditation. Now, all you need to do is grab your mats and make a choice as to what would you prefer. Either of the choices will leave you with a calm mind and relaxed body. You will find yourself healthier and happier after you adapt any of these lifestyles for better living.