In today’s uncertain times, self-care is more important than ever. Lives have been disrupted, emotions are running high, and it’s easy to feel like we have no control when we don’t know when or if things will return to normal. But what we can control is how we respond to these changes, and the way to do that is through mindfulness.
Yoga and meditation are two mindfulness practices that anyone can participate in, right from the comfort of their home. We’ve talked a lot about the many mental and physical benefits of meditation, and as it turns out, yoga offers many of those benefits too. These two practices go hand in hand, and together, they make the perfect team to take care of your whole self — body and mind.
The Mind-Body Connection
Deepak Chopra, the famous physician and meditation expert, says that the mind and body are like two parallel universes, and whatever happens in one impacts the other.
In other words, you can’t care for one without caring for the other. The body and mind are inextricably connected.
You’ve probably experienced this concept yourself. Maybe you’ve felt your heart racing and your palms sweating before a big presentation. Perhaps you’ve gotten a headache, stomachache or even an ulcer from too much stress. Maybe you’ve been so elated after a successful job interview that you feel like you have endless energy. These are all ways that our bodies react to what we’re thinking and feeling.
It goes the other way, too. Have you ever felt your mood boost after working out? Have you ever been impatient or cranky when you’re overtired? That’s your mind responding to what’s going on in your body.
This “mind-body connection” is a core tenet of yoga: that our thoughts and emotions affect our bodies, and vice versa.
Yoga and Meditation: What’s the Difference?
You might think yoga is all young, fit people bending their bodies into superhuman shapes. But yoga is so much more than physical postures. In fact, the ancient yogis were not at all focused on fitness — their work was on mastering the mind and expanding their spirituality. Later, yoga evolved to include postures, or asanas, because it was believed that by mastering the body, one could master the mind.
In most yoga classes, you are guided through a combination of physical postures, breath work and meditation. Meditation is often used to open and close the class, but the physical practice can also be considered a type of moving meditation. As you move through the postures, you draw your focus to your breath and the sensations in your body. Your awareness is on what’s happening with you in that present moment. And that is meditation!
It’s important to keep in mind that fancy handstands and backbends are not the end goal of yoga. In fact, there is no one goal of yoga. Your yoga practice is about your journey and your experience. It’s about deepening your awareness and your relationship with yourself, both on and off the mat. And it’s about taking care of you — both your body and your mind.
If you’re new to yoga and meditation, now is the perfect time to start. Group classes at SHYFT at Mile High are closed for the time being, but we’re offering free online classes to help our community get through these difficult times. For updates on our classes and more mindfulness tips, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram.