Meditation meaning and benefits
Meditation is also mentioned in the Ashtanga 8 limbs of yoga, particularly Dhyana. Like the physical practice of yoga, dhyana also forms a profound connection with the universe by doing mental exercises to bring you to a higher state of consciousness. This connection happens in savasana when you are in a meditative, peaceful state. The purpose of meditation is not just to make one ecstatic , it is to create a “space” between you and what is your body and mind. Once this happens, this is the end of suffering.
Benefits of Meditation
1. Easy to do
Yoga meditation works great for people who have difficulty focusing or feel like they can’t slow down enough to meditate. It’s easier to let go, be still, and relax after working out your body. If you don’t feel confident with meditating, yoga meditation may help you find your way.
2. Helps relieve pain
Yoga meditation may help relieve pain. A review of several studies found pain relief receptors in the brain were activated by yoga meditation (Jurisic, 2018).
Yoga and meditation can help with back pain, specifically lower back pain (Chang, 2016; Cherkin, 2016). In fact, the American College of Physicians suggests trying yoga if you suffer from chronic low back pain (Chang, 2017).
3. Improves your mental health
Yoga meditation is associated with increased mindfulness and an improved mood. In one study, people who practiced yoga and yoga meditation had better mental health, more profound spiritual well-being, and fewer depressive symptoms than people who didn’t do these practices (Gaiswinkler, 2017).
4. Decreases anxiety and depression
Yoga meditation also increases your level of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Low levels of this neurotransmitter can be linked to anxiety and depression. Some brain scans performed on meditators have shown increased activity in parts of the brain that produce GABA (Krishnakumar, 2015).
In a study that compared a group getting cognitive-behavioral therapy, a control group, and a group that did a Sahaja yoga meditation, the yoga meditation group significantly decreased their anxiety and depression. This type of yoga meditation is based on the Kundalini method that wakes up “chakras” or energy centers in the body (Krishnakumar, 2015).
5. Reboots your brain
The neural pathways in your brain are not set in stone. Both yoga and meditation help form and maintain connections in the brain and increase overall healthy brain activity (Kora, 2021).
The breathing in yoga meditations helps to change your brain waves from excited to relaxed. When you slow your brain waves down, your mind can become clearer, and your brain health can improve (Lee, 2018).
Yoga meditation also helps increase the size of parts of the brain that help you reason, make decisions, and strengthen your willpower (Froeliger, 2012).
6. Reduces stress
Yoga and meditation both reduce stress by promoting physical and mental relaxation. When you’re relaxed, you activate a part of the nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps to lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones like cortisol. When you reduce stress, you decrease inflammation throughout your body, as well as anxiety. This leads to overall health, especially for your heart (Pascoe, 2017).
7. Improves your sleep quality
Yoga meditations may help you sleep better, which also helps decrease stress, stress-related anxiety, depressive symptoms, and inflammation (Zhou, 2017).
8. Lowers your blood pressure
Yoga meditation helps lower blood pressure, an important factor in heart health and overall wellness (Chung, 2012).
9. Decreases inflammation
There are many markers in the blood that can be measured to gauge inflammation in the body. Yoga has been shown to decrease many of them (Djalilova, 2019).
10. May have anti-aging effects
There’s a chance that yoga meditation may have anti-aging effects. Each chromosome in our DNA has a special sequence of nucleotides (building blocks of DNA) called telomeres. These are at the ends of the DNA “spiral” to protect the chromosome from being damaged. Telomeres get shorter as we age, which is one theory on why aging happens at all. Studies show that yoga meditation like savasana can positively impact telomere length (Mohammad, 2019).
11. Brightens your mood
Yoga and meditation improve your self-awareness and self-compassion, which can help relieve sad or heavy emotions. In a study testing a type of yoga-based emotional training technique, practicing daily for two weeks improved self-compassion and emotional regulation and decreased negative emotions (Patel, 2019).
12. Makes you more resilient
Resilience, or the ability to bounce back from difficult circumstances, is a vital component of physical and mental health. Yoga meditation may help build your resilience through physical exercise, breathing, and meditation in the yoga sequence (Laird, 2019).
How to do yoga meditation
Yoga meditation is done without moving the body. When you do this mindful practice, you will get into position, either sitting or lying down peacefully, letting thoughts and feelings pass without judging them. You keep your eyes closed and your palms facing upward to the sky.
Yoga meditation is often done in a class or with someone instructing you during the meditation, though you may find you can practice it on your own once you have experience with it. Some people use YouTube or online videos for guided yoga meditation.
You may feel your body tingle or shake, especially if you’ve done a more vigorous style of yoga. Some people may fall asleep during yoga meditation. A typical yoga meditation takes about five minutes, though some may last longer.