Yoga and meditation are more closely related than you may think. They’ve both been used for thousands of years to enhance each other, and proper practice of both can have tremendous benefits for their practitioners. Many, like you, have wondered which should come first.
Should you do yoga before or after meditation? Practicing yoga before meditation, can be much easier to reach states of relaxation and calm. Yoga not only stretches the muscles but softens anxieties and directs the mind towards contemplation and relaxation. Yoga has long been used to prepare the mind and body for meditation.
It all comes down to experimentation through practice and finding what works for you. For most, yoga warms up both body and mind and can make it a lot easier to find one’s breath and focus one’s attention. To learn more on the meditation/yoga connection, read on. You’ll be glad you did.
They Have Always Been Related Concepts
Yoga has been around for a long time. Some believe yoga to be around 5000 years old, while the concept may have been around for well over 10,000 years. While the practice of yoga has undoubtedly changed over time, especially as it has slowly made its way into western culture, its core concepts remain the same.
In the Eight-Limbed Yoga of the classical era, yoga is a much broader concept than what we are used to in the west. The focus of this classical form of yoga is all about preparing the mind, energy, spirit, body, and focus for meditation.
It has long been the thought that yoga’s physical movements are there to get us ready for meditation.
There Are No Rules
There are countless schools of thought on yoga and meditation. If you try to nail down the exact reasons for all of the hows and the whys, your head will never stop spinning. While we definitely condone doing your research, it is best practice to listen to your own body and mind.
While many people use yoga to prepare themselves for seated meditation, the contrary is also true. There is no manual for how this all works exactly. If there were, we wouldn’t be writing this article. What works for you is the best method.
Yoga Before Meditation
In the modern world, everything moves quickly. Work and leisure seem to be blurred together as time rapidly goes by. It can seem impossible to slow things down without a little intervention. While yoga before meditation is traditionally accepted as the way to go, it still rings true in today’s hustle and bustle.
The physical movement, the focus on the breath, and the sense of control that we achieve when we practice yoga all work together to ground us in the moment. Yoga gives us a sense of power in a world where the hands on the clock seem to spin with abandon.
This level of control, of slowing things down, lends itself well towards preparing our being for seated meditation. For those who are constantly checking things off of our to-do lists while simultaneously adding new tasks, going through yoga movements can help slow things down enough to begin to quiet the mind.
Meditation Before Yoga
For some of us, we need a gentle coaxing to will ourselves into action. Sometimes the best course for that is inaction. Meditation can help us to:
- Steal our minds
- Overcome our anxieties
- Prepare ourselves for the tasks at hand
By focusing inward and slowing down the ceaseless train of thought, we have the upper hand via meditation.
This order of processes can be beneficial for those attending a group yoga class. Classes that begin with a 5 to 10-minute meditation can benefit those that have trouble being in that large room with all of those other people. A yoga class can be a vulnerable situation for many people and, by clearing one’s mind beforehand, it can be a lot easier to get into the flow.
Meditation before yoga can also work well if you need to decompress from a long day of work before beginning your yogic practice. If your primary intention is to utilize yoga as a form of stretching and exercise, mediation beforehand can give you the edge you need to truly perform.
Ways to Improve Both Meditation and Yoga
If you are asking this question to improve your practices, you’re already on the right path. Research and experimentation are great ways to find what works for you. The goal here isn’t necessarily enlightenment. You can focus on that much later when you’ve figured out the best way to order things. For now, focusing on what gets results is the most important. Here are some ways that you can get some instant improvement in both meditation and yoga practice.
- Design Your Space: Whether you’ve got a lot of space, or only just a little, it can help hone your mind and spirit by making that space your own. Something as simple as tidying up before you begin to stretch, lighting candles or incense, or shutting the door to distractions can go a long way.
- Shut It All Down: We live in a world of screens, notifications, music, and non-stop ads. Do yourself a favor and turn it all off. Set your phone on silent, and turn off anything that will interrupt. Click off the tv, the stereo, dim the lights. Let yourself be the only thing that you focus on.
- Get Comfortable: It can be easy to slip into bad habits, even if they are uncomfortable. If you’re having trouble sitting for any length of time, try a zafu pillow. These small pillows filled with buckwheat hulls can help those of us with flexibility issues. If you don’t want to spend any money, a folded blanket or two can do just as well.
- Use an App: For both yoga and meditation, there are countless apps available, and more every day. There are free apps that contain guided meditations and yoga routines and subscription apps that can keep you busy for months on end. Even YouTube is filled with free content to help you on your way.
- Switch It Up: If you’ve typically done your yoga before you meditate, take a day to flip the order of things. Experiment with your practice. If it becomes too routine, it can be stale, and you may find yourself plateauing, unable to find the way to improve. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
- Work on Your Posture: Focusing on the breath is a useful tool in both meditation and yoga. But try paying attention to your posture as well. A straight spine can make a world of difference as to how well your practice goes.
Traditionally, it has been yoga that precedes meditation. Though this may be true, it is not the only way. Remember, there are no rules to either, and as long as you are experiencing growth in spirit, mind, and body, you’re doing it right.
No matter how small the increments may be, if it makes you feel good, if it makes you calmer, more loving, more determined, what can be the harm in doing things differently?