Among the benefits of yoga and meditation include improved mental awareness, relaxation of the mind, relief of chronic stress patterns and improved breathing.
When you combine yoga and meditation the benefits are more.
They improve physical fitness while enhancing mental well-being.
Both are ancient practices dating back to 5,000 years ago and were meant to help connect the body, mind and spirit.
Even though yoga mostly favored spiritual energy back then, modern yoga has been fused with meditation to captivate inner peace and promote physical fitness.
However, the increased rate at which people have turned into yoga and meditation is alarming with some misconceptions threatening to replace the need for conventional medical care.
This should never be the case.
And neither should anyone postpone medical checkups or treatment to exercise yoga and meditation as the alternative.
In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of yoga and meditation plus the best yoga poses to improve your mental health.
1. Stimulating Mental Functioning
Practicing yoga has proven to improve people’s cognitive functioning.
This means heightened attention, increasing mental processing speed and sharpened planning.
Yoga practitioners have been shown to have larger volumes of the hippocampus and frontal cortex.
These two parts are responsible for cognitive functioning.
Research showed a change in the practitioner’s brain structure.
Engaging in yoga and meditation increases your ability to conceive and process information, focus and concentration.
To improve your mental functioning, practicing Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose) yoga pose is recommended.
This pose involves raising the feet up until they are at 90 degrees with the body.
With the head at the lowest end, more blood flows to the brain this improving mental functioning.
2. Managing Depression
Even though taking antidepressants and talk therapy are the recommended depression treatment methods, yoga has also proven to aid manage depression.
Whether you are a pregnant woman, a caregiver or any other person suffering from depression disorder, practicing yoga with a concentration on mental health can boost your mood and moderate depression.
Studies on the effect of yoga on the brain have shown consistent yoga practice to suppress stress hormones (cortisol).
The anti-depressant effect awakened by yoga and meditation exercises decreases the levels of serotonin which is often linked to depression.
Child’s Pose (Balasana) is a yoga pose that offers immense comfort and restoration.
As you bend and allow the body to be in total alignment to the ground, the tension in the spinal is released thus calming the nerves.
3. Relieving Anxiety
Feeling anxious is a natural part of our lives.
But having anxiety disorder often characterized by rapid heart rate, intense and persistent worry or fear degrades ones mental health.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2020, 31% of all adults suffer from anxiety at some time in their life.
Yoga and mindfulness meditation have been used for ages as an adjunctive treatment for anxiety disorders especially panic disorder.
Consistent yoga exercises (one 60-minute session every week) have shown positive effects during anxiety treatment.
Corpse Pose (Savasana) is a meditative pose that’s renowned for unlocking deep states of mental calmness and relieving anxiety.
4. Relieving Stress
Nearly everybody has experienced stress at one moment.
Whenever you are engulfed by stress, practice some yoga and meditation and you’ll feel more relaxed.
Yoga promotes mental health by relaxing the body, mind and breathing.
Scientists have proven that continuous yoga practice (at least 3 months) benefits the brain by reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
As the stress hormones surge upon exercising yoga and meditation, you not only relieve stress but also suppress hormones responsible for damaging blood vessels.
Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is a perfect exercise that’s simple and easy to practice and the mental benefits are immense.
All you need is to lie flat on the ground and lift the legs upright against a wall.
5. Promoting Emotional Health
If you are emotionally healthy, controlling feelings, thoughts, and behaviors is easy.
On the contrary, being unable to have a positive self-image can have a detrimental mental health effect.
Whenever you start experiencing emotional outbursts, sadness, stress and anger, it’s beneficial to provoke your emotional awareness by practicing yoga and meditation.
It’s worth noting some studies have proved that people who did their meditation sessions to the last improved their positive self-image thus suppressing negative thoughts.
Sukhasana is among the simplest yoga that you can practice at home to promote your emotional health.
It’s an easy exercise that you can incorporate meditation to achieve more positive effects.
6. Improves Sleep Quality
Having poor sleep due to depression, anxiety disorders, paranoia and to some extreme extent, suicidal thoughts.
When you deprive your body of good sleep, the consequences are adverse.
Continuous sleep deprivation causes mood changes, troubled thinking and low concentration and weakens immunity response.
The best pre-sleep yoga styles that will improve your sleep quality include hatha yoga and nadra.
As the hatha yoga poses help to focus body positioning, the nadra pose focuses on breathing and restoration.
7. Relieves Migraine Pain and Frequency
A migraine is a severe headache you wouldn’t wish to happen to you.
Practicing bridge yoga pose has proven to relieve migraine pain, reduce headache intensity and reduce migraine frequency.
In a 2007 study, 72 migraine patients were subjected to yoga therapy and self-care for 3 months.
Another group of 60 migraine patients underwent conventional care without yoga exercises.
Based on the two group’s results, the group that underwent a combination of yoga and self-care exhibited a decrease in pain intensity and frequency.
Prasarita Padottanasana yoga pose allows more oxygenated blood to flow to the head thus refreshing the brain.
By practicing Prasarita Padottanasana yoga pose, headache pain caused by migraine decreases rapidly.
8. Boosts one’s mindfulness
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved simply by paying more attention or focus to every action you undertake.
Being aware of the present and alive to each moment offers a state of awareness.
Again, acknowledging your body sensations, thoughts and feelings is a therapeutic state best achieved by consistently doing yoga and meditation.
Yoga exercises aimed at finding internal body equilibrium if incorporated with focused breathing improves concentration.
Among the best yoga poses that are meant to boost ones mindfulness include, Vrikshasana also known as “Tree Pose”, Supta Baddha Konasana alias “Reclining Bound Angle Pose” and Tadasana popularly known as “Mountain Pose”.
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
Does Yoga and Meditation Work?
A highly reputable institute- National Health Institute has proved that yoga and meditation work by relieving anxiety, lowering the release of cortisol (stress hormone) and improving the general body health.
Other renowned benefits of yoga and meditation are:
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving heart health
- Easing chronic pain
- Enhancing body flexibility and balance
Hundreds of studies incorporating different research methodologies have been done on different groups of people- yoga practitioners, patients, meditation experts and people under conventional care.
How to Meditate During Yoga
Different yoga moves allow the incorporation of various meditation techniques.
Again, yoga in itself has an element of meditation that helps search the body inner balance, enables concentration and focuses breath.
By combining meditation and yoga, you built an inner connection between the body, mind and breathing.
This is how to meditate while practising yoga:
Step 1: Set your mantra or intention
A phrase or word you keep repeating (often silent in your head) while meditating is the mantra.
Whatever you want to achieve after yoga meditation should set your mantra.
Step 2: Set your pace
While you don’t have to rush only to finish the exercise and neither move too slowly to lose your yoga meditation meaning, set the right pace.
Choose a pace that will allow a smooth and natural flow of the mental, body and breathe connectivity.
Step 3: Be gentle to allow breathe patterns to guide you
For you to meditate during yoga, it’s good to choose a slow-paced yoga pose. Hot yoga or breath-taking yoga won’t allow you to meditate.
Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga and Yin Yoga are a few yoga poses you can try.
Match your inhaling and exhaling patterns with the yoga moves as you meditate your mantra.
Step 4: Release those anxious feelings and expectations
Since your exercise is aimed at improving your well-being and while acknowledging mental awareness let every negative thought and anxiety flow by breathing out.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Can we do yoga and meditation together?
Even though it’s highly recommended to do meditation after yoga, you can do them together.
The key thing is to have a set goal.
It’s simple and easy to meditate as you practice simple yoga poses like Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanansana) and Standing Balance Poses.
2. When is the best time for yoga and meditation?
Just like meditation, the best time to do yoga is early in the morning immediately after waking up.
Experts also recommend doing yoga in the early evening before sunset.
3. Which are the best yoga and meditation classes near me?
There are thousands of yoga and meditations classes around you some of which are fairly priced while others are costly.
If you are in the United States, here are some of the yoga meditation classes you should visit:
- Miami Life Centre
Whether you are a beginner or an expert looking for Ashtanga yoga classes, this facility has some internationally recognized trainers.
Their classes are differentiated into three; beginner, intermediate and advanced.
It’s located along Miami Beach.
- Yoga Tree
Are you located near San Francisco Bay?
Then Yoga Tree is just near you.
With only $155, you have a whole month of yoga and meditation classes.
Even though you have to reserve in advance, they offer classes any time of the day.
- Amrita Yoga Classes
If you are looking for a yoga studio that offers special classes on focus and alignment, Amrita Yoga Classes is the studio to visit.
Its inviting interior design welcomes you to a state-of-the-art studio characterized by natural stones, an indoor waterfall and roaring fireplaces.
It’s now evident the benefits of yoga and meditation to your body are countless.
Whether you want to achieve body balance, relieve back pain, improve mental focus or enhance your body fitness, go for yoga and meditation.