Difference between Yoga and Meditation
Today Yoga is in vogue. Everybody wants to do Yoga. Many people considered that there is no difference between yoga and meditation. For the beginners and the uninformed, I would like to explain how and what is the difference between yoga and meditation.
Meditation and Yoga are related in the sense; Meditation is a section or a part of Yoga.
WHAT IS YOGA?
First of all, Yoga is not a religion. Yoga is a way of life that aims to remove obstacles and suffering from life to attain the highest spiritual goal ‘Samadhi’ or self-realisation or union with higher consciousness. Yoga entails different paths and practices that help in achieving the desired results. It is very unfortunate that the commercial fitness industry is trying to use Yoga as a gimmick for materialistic gains and sales purposes. Yoga is not all about stretching and adjunct to intense physical exercises. Yoga is much more than that- Yoga is for everyday living. It is a holistic approach to healthy living. Yoga helps to connect mind, body and spirit. It also improves daily living habits, helps to build better relations and fine tunes all the body systems i.e. circulatory, respiratory, hormonal, digestive, excretory etc. Yoga helps to achieve peace of mind, emotional and mental stability.
Yoga path improves everyday fitness routines, better postures, strengthens the immunity and energy levels are significantly improved. It is fast becoming a method of choice for effective weight loss and daily stress reduction. People throughout the world practice different kinds of Yoga-Classical or Ashtanga Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Mantra Yoga and many more adaptations.
The Yoga Institute is a pioneer in teaching and training Ashtanga or Classical Yoga. Traditional Yoga has eight limbs the first four limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama (also called Bhairanga Yoga/external Yoga); Pratyahara (5th Limb) is considered the bridge between External Yoga and Antaranga Yoga /internal Yoga. Antaranga Yoga consist of- Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. The five Yamas are guidelines for self-conduct; five Niyamas for social conduct; Yoga Asanas- postures for physical strength, flexibility and better stamina; Pranayama- breath control for emotional and mental stability; Pratyahara- restraining of the senses; Dharana- means concentration; Dhyana-means meditation and ultimate goal of Yoga Samadhi- a state of intense concentration that is achieved by conquering meditation. Samadhi is regarded as the final stage, at which unification with the higher reality or the divine is reached.
In the ancient text of Patanjali Yoga Sutra Classical Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga is prescribed for the beginners or the mild learners or ordinary householders. But before you start practising Yoga it is highly recommended that you learn how to do yoga, from qualified and experienced Yoga teachers. People who are keen to improve self-conduct and maintain healthy mind, body and spirit should opt for Classical Yoga. Holistic benefits of doing Yoga are countless.
What Does MEDITATION Mean Then?
Today we live in a fast-paced life with so many tasks, responsibilities, stress and unexplained fears. There is a significant disparity between the thought process and the actions we tend to perform throughout the day. But when your thoughts and actions are a perfect match you don’t feel the conflict or the stress and are genuinely focused at that moment in time. You are committed to living in the present moment. Also, you tend to feel more joy and are less fatigued.
Meditation practice consists of no exercises or bodily movements. An individual sits at a definite place and tries to focus the energies within the body on a particular object, sound, breath etc. Essentially, meditation is a part of yoga, which is mostly performed after Yoga asana practice. After you have done Yoga, the body is filled with vibrations and to gain a stable condition on both mind and body level, meditations are preferred post Yoga asana sessions. Meditation enhances the self-realisation process and promotes over wellbeing but curtailing excessive thinking and coordinating breath control. Contrasting meditation, doing Yoga has some obvious restrictions such as some asanas be performed on an empty stomach; some asanas can’t be done if you are having health ailments and issues etc.
Yoga meditation is not about thinking, but instead, it is a deep state of unity with the object of contemplation. Meditation is a constant practice of intense focus on a particular object, sound, visualization, the breath or deep attention to increasing awareness of the present moment this helps to reduce stress, anxiety, curtail over thinking and promotes relaxation. Thus the ability to find such kind of focus is developed by doing meditation regularly. This requires effort, and the ability to focus the mind’s attention to one particular object is the foundation of Dharna or meditation for a short while on one object. This is absolutely necessary if the learner is to reach the difficult stage of Samadhi or liberation. So let us understand the difference between Dharna and Dhyana using a simple analogy.
Consider a closed tap from which water droplets are trickling Dharna can be compared to short-term concentration on a particular object like the flow of the drops of water.
On the other hand -If you pour honey from the jar, the stream is un-interrupted this can be compared to Dhyana, i.e. concentration for a long while with total focus.
Samadhi last limb of the Ashtanga Yoga only very few are fortunate to experience liberation. Samadhi has been described in the ancient texts that when a Yogi can sustain Dhyana for an extended period of time the consciousness level is purified and raised to such an extent that soul becomes like a transparent jewel which fuses with the higher reality on every plane. It is a state that cannot be specified in words. It is a very rare phenomenon and very select few who progress to the Samadhi state.
So meditation is the advanced Yoga practice, and definite text Yoga Sutra by Sage Patanjali has devoted a good measure of sutras for the subject of meditation.
Yoga and meditation should be implemented together for garnering holistic health benefits, but ensure that both are done under the guidance of an experienced Yoga teacher. Now that the difference between Yoga and Meditation is quite clear.