We talk a big game about these varieties of yoga because we’re big believers in them — and we think they can bring even more people into yoga.
But we haven’t forgotten about the building blocks of yoga… or the elements of a yoga practice that might be more familiar to you from pop culture and other studios. That’s right, bulldoggers — we’re talking about mindful meditation.
It’s time to take things down a notch or two. Let’s focus on some of the mental health benefits of yoga that often come secondary to the physical health benefits in a more aerobic variation of the practice!
What is mindful meditation?
If we’re going to define mindful meditation, we’re going to do it right.
Let’s really break it down into parts…
It’s become more of a buzzword in the Instagram age, but the bona fide, Cambridge Dictionary definition of mindful is “deliberately aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, in order to create a feeling of calm.”
This is where nailing down definitions gets a little more challenging. According to Harvard Medical School, meditation is a thousands-year-old practice that is thought to “work via its effects on the sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure during times of stress.” There are many health benefits of meditation — which we’ll share below! — and many different types of meditation.
So what happens when you put the two together?
You get mindful meditation, a practice that focuses on deliberate movements and breathing. Those deliberate movements and breathing techniques can give you the tools you need to better handle stress and anxiety. Yoga can be part of the equation, too!
Sounds pretty great, right?
YUP. We’re definitely on board.
Now that we’ve answered the “what is mindful meditation?” question, you’re probably looking for some mindful meditation how-to.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Next, let’s chat about the specific benefits that come with mindful meditation.
6 Key Meditation Benefits
Here are some of the advantages that might come with meditative practices, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:
#1) Mental Health
Findings of various studies point to meditation as a way to combat anxiety, depression, and anger. The breathing techniques that you pick up in a mindfulness practice may come in handy when you’re off the mat and dealing with something stressful. Aren’t we all always looking for some new coping mechanisms to add to our toolkit?
#2) Better Sleep
Per The Sleep Foundation, mindful meditation is “a great tool for those looking for an all-natural, medication-free way to treat insomnia.” It’s been proven to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality, make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep, and decrease the need for sleeping pills.
#3) Cardiac Health
Do you deal with high blood pressure? Try mindful meditation! Meditation practices have been proven to lower the blood pressure of people who are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
#4) Digestive Health
Patients who deal with symptoms of IBS and other stomach issues reported increased quality of life and decreased pain after picking up meditation and other mindfulness practices.
#5) Pain Management
Some studies have found that mindfulness practices are effective at controlling pain. And since yoga has also been proven effective for pain relief, merging the two is a recipe for taking the edge off of your aches and pains. Making mindful meditation a part of your routine may go a long way toward easing any chronic pain you experience.
#6) Improves Your Overall Health
Ultimately, the biggest takeaway of our research on mindfulness and meditation is that these practices really can improve your overall quality of life. When your body feels better and your mind feels calmer, you’re able to manage the challenges of daily life with a clearer head and a better attitude. Curve balls are less likely to trip you up!
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There are many different ways to practice mindful meditation
Harvard notes walking meditation, heart-centered meditation, and transcendental meditation, among others — and yoga can be part of it.
Yoga is our thing, but that’s not the only reason we think it’s the best way to achieve the benefits of meditation.
If you need more proof, here it is:
- You’ll have some guidance! If mindfulness and meditation practices are new to you, you might be nervous about getting started. You don’t need to be, but we get it — trying new things can be hard. The awesome thing about getting mindful on the yoga mat is that you’ll have someone to lead you through the process! If you think you’ll prefer your mindful meditation guided, one of our class leaders can give you the support you’re looking for. In our Mindfulness Meditation Yoga for Anxiety & Better Sleep YouTube video, for example, class leaders Kelly and Allison totally have your back! In a class setting, you’ll learn all the basics!
- It’s accessible. There’s no need to spend a lot of money for a fancy meditation retreat when you have easy access to online yoga classes wherever you are and whenever you have time. We have a collection of online classes that are especially designed to help you get meditative! It doesn’t cost a lot of money, you can practice it in the comfort of your home, and you don’t need any special equipment. Mindful meditation can really be that simple.
- Breathing makes the mind/body connection. Chiller yoga places a focus on your breathing patterns and linking them to your movements. According to the site Yogi Approved, this kind of deep, conscious breathing stimulates endorphins (which reduce symptoms of depression), reduce toxins in the lungs, cleanse the blood, sharpens intuition, and helps with stress management by regulating your body’s pH balance.
- There are also physical benefits. Unlike other methods of meditation, yoga allows you to reap the physical benefits of yoga while you get mindful and focus on those breathing patterns. Meditative yoga is less physically intense than power yoga, of course, but it’s not without its perks for your bod. Taking a mindful meditation yoga class will give you an opportunity to stretch. This will make you more flexible and mobile. It may also improve your balance. And it can help you manage chronic pain!
Now that you’re hooked on the idea of mindful meditation…
If you’re looking for a long-term workout plan that incorporates elements of mindfulness, you might also consider our Yoga for Stress plan. It outlines four weeks of yoga classes that will improve your mental health, including classes that emphasize mindfulness, breathing, and stillness — all of which will help you get into the meditative aspects of yoga.
It’s your turn to explore mindful meditation!