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Meditation, Mindfullness & How Yoga Helps in Both

When was the last time you did nothing? Sat alone with your thoughts, focusing on each moment as it’s happening—just being present. Not recently? Welcome to the club. Beginning a meditational journey is no easy feat, but research shows the practice has various life-improving benefits. Want to reduce stress in your life? Meditate. Want to increase your attention span? Meditate. Want to sleep like a baby? You guessed it, meditate. The list goes on, and with all the arrows pointing toward meditation as something we should embrace, why aren’t more people doing it?

According to experts, 95% of choices a person makes daily are made as if on autopilot. Being mindful of our actions and making a conscious choice to train our minds to create new pathways and new habits can be daunting, and while some types of meditation involve breathing techniques, focusing on a mantra or sound, or even an image, another type of meditation is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining awareness of every moment without making judgments of those moments. 

Yoga has been an essential aspect of mindfulness for thousands of years. We spoke with Nikela Gates of Connective Souls to gain insight into why yoga can be a critical practice for those hoping to improve their meditation journey. 

According to Gates, some people can be turned off from yoga because they think they have to chant. “Yoga offers you a toolset, you make it your own. You make it whatever you need at that moment. I have practiced next to someone who had a bible scripture. That was her focus, her form of meditation,” she says.

Yoga is about being present, which is also the biggest aspect of meditation.”It’s tough for people to accept who they are at that moment. Things change from day to day, moment to moment. I focus on this when I share the practice of yoga. It’s about meeting yourself where you are right now. The process of slowing down—to be in the moment. Are we in the moment? Do we need the affirmations? With yoga, the inhale, the exhales, the breathing, that’s where the practice contributes to those who want to focus on meditation, says Gates. 

She also shares what she thinks yoga can bring someone in daily life, “Breathwork. Whether you feel good or bad, are in a stressful situation, or sitting at a desk. It’s listening and taking care of your body.”

People can use these tools in their daily lives. Meditation doesn’t have to take an hour or even 30 minutes; it can be as simple as focused breathing for two minutes. When asked, Gates explains, “I don’t always have an hour, so sometimes I start with two minutes. I pause, sit, breathe, and ask myself ‘how do you want to feel today?’ Yoga has taught me to pause, breathe, and tell myself that I have time.” 

5 Tips for Meditation

1. Meditation is inclusive of everyone, including you. You don’t have to feel grounded and balanced, have life figured out, and all the other seemingly great mental spaces to meditate. Start wherever you are in life.

2. Any amount of time is enough. Don’t put off meditating until you have hours to sit in silence. 60 seconds can be as effective as 60 minutes when needed.

3. You can meditate anywhere. Meditating is about going inward to focus or clear your mind. You can meditate in a noisy space— noise-canceling headphones could become your meditation tool of choice.

4. There are different forms of meditation. For example, Yoga is a form of moving meditation.  Research the different types of meditation and choose the best options for your journey.

5. Be kind to yourself. As you start this new journey, your mind may wander; you may find it hard to focus.  Simply bring your mind back to your focal point.  Your breath is a great starting point for a focal point if needed.  Express kindness, patience, and gratitude towards yourself. You are consciously creating change, and you should be proud of yourself. I’m proud of you!