There was a time in the U.S. when meditation and yoga were stereotyped only as an aspect of “alternative lifestyles,” assumed to be “hippy-dippy” activities for zen-fixated people chanting “ohm” and eating restrictive diets. Outside of the cultures in which they originated, the practice of meditation or yoga was considered esoteric and slightly weird. Now, those times are over.
Meditation and yoga are so commonly practiced now that you can find local yoga studios in most strip malls, and multiple meditation apps on your smartphone. What caused the U.S. perspective to shift, and what’s all this hype about? Well, they work!
As with most ancient practices, there is a reason they have lasted millennia across many cultures – they are effective and they can help. Our Western culture has been late to the party, but that’s ok: there’s enough mindful self-care for everyone!
Meditation and yoga, though different in form and practice, complement each other in multiple ways to restore, refresh, and rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit. The wonderful thing about them is that you can practice them in terms of minutes or hours, depending on the time you have available.
Here’s how meditation can help you come back from fatigue refreshed and energized:
Meditation often involves focusing your attention on a certain object, thought, or action to streamline the clutter and chatter in your mind and relieve tension and stress. Some examples of focal points are:
- Your breath
- A spot on the wall
- The repetitive movement of an object
- Guided mantras or visualizations
While focusing on your action, object, or thought, the intentional practice of meditation begins to override the ambient chaos and restore your peace of mind – which overflows into restoring your body and spirit. Meditation can be done at any experience level, from beginner through advanced techniques. Formal training is not required to experience the effects of meditation. An open mind, open heart, and a few minutes of peace and quiet are all you need.
Some great places to find meditation information and guidance are:
- Your app store
- Local meditation clinics
- Books, blogs, and online resources
With benefits much like those of meditation, yoga is a type of physical activity that releases tension, promotes flexibility, and builds strength in the body and mind. Unlike working out in a gym, yoga is generally practiced in a calm and quiet location, indoors or outdoors. Yoga engages the whole body in movements that range from easy stretches to complex poses that require significant focus.
There are many styles of yoga to practice, and each tradition has unique aspects that set it apart from others. Sometimes these are based on the Yogi who popularized the style, or sometimes it refers to the type of activity or the location where it is practiced. Some popular styles of yoga to research are:
Again, like meditation, anyone can begin to engage in a yoga practice with little prior background or experience. As with any form of exercise, your ability and agility will improve the more you practice.
Engaging in meditation and yoga can refresh your mind and spirit by using breath work, stretching, intentional focus, and by quieting the mind. These practices get your mind away from fixating on the issues that are causing you fatigue. The restoration of your muscles and the energy produced by meditating and practicing yoga will also build your stamina and resilience.
The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, consider taking some time to focus your breath and mind apart from the issues at hand, and use meditation to get yourself centered. Consider taking a local beginners yoga class (or following one on YouTube) and feel the benefits of relaxing your mind and body.
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