Self care suss: yoga and meditation

Beibhinn Thorsch

Meditation and self care

Yoga and meditation go hand-in-hand as mindfulness, health, and relaxation techniques. While both are quite different, they are commonly used together to achieve their ultimate positive benefits.

Originally, yoga was used as a practice of self-observation to train the body and mind to become aware of its own nature, and ultimately reach higher consciousness in the individual. Nowadays, yoga is touted as a method of increasing flexibility, aerobic capacity, and overall strength. There is a general belief from both sides of the spectrum that yoga has many benefits no matter what you use it for.

Yoga uses breathing techniques incorporated from meditation practices, however meditation does not incorporate the movements and stretches of yoga. Meditation focuses less on the mind as a whole and more on an object, thought or activity, with the goal to train awareness and achieve a mentally clear and calm state. Meditation is often used to achieve enlightenment – or self-realization.

Both meditation and yoga have been used to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and pain – and increasing overall well-being. Research is on-going into figuring out the official definitions of the health effects of the practices.

However, the culture surrounding these originally very spiritual practices, famously used in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam (and to a lesser degree also in the Christian and Jewish religions) has changed. The culture has changed into Instagram-central fitness gurus promoting the latest supplements, expensive leggings, fancy water bottles and yoga mats.

Ultimately the focus of meditation and yoga practices can be best used as personal self improvement, and figuring out what works for the individual rather than what the ‘professional’ says works best for them.

One of the pioneers of accessible and beneficial yoga is Adriene Mishler, who does YouTube videos and series’ on the practice, including many guided meditations and yoga sessions. Mishler also does paid online courses. One of the main benefits of the service which Mishler provides for free, is that her guided sessions often have specific aims for those dealing with very specific issues such as grief.

YouTube as a platform is highly accessible and cuts the cost of paying for a gym membership or weekly yoga class. With so many videos to choose from that contain a variety of well-organized niche routines, and monthly challenges to do yoga every day with Mishler, there is something for everyone here – far beyond LuluLemon outfits.

Meditation alone has long been pushed as a way to work through mental health struggles, but also, to achieve balance and better concentration in your life. One of the simplest ways of meditation is to sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus all your attention to your breathing. There are also different breathing techniques which claim to help different parts of the body and mind.

As self care techniques become broader and more difficult, the pressure is building to execute them perfectly. If you feel like something isn’t sitting right with you, then listen to your body.

Beibhinn Thorsch

Image Credit: Johnathon Lynam