Yoga and Mindfulness: Do I Have to Do Yoga to Be Mindful? 7 Ways to Bring Yoga into Your Mindfulness Practice

Last update:

I started my mindfulness journey through yoga, but do you have to start yours that way?

Yoga is an essential part of my personal mindfulness practice.

Yoga is an intentional, helpful movement practice. Though it is unnecessary for your mindfulness practice, it is useful for setting intentions and connecting with your body before meditation.

Mindfulness meditation refers to actions that bring awareness to the present and help practitioners find stillness. Yoga and mindfulness often exist in the same space, but yoga does not have to be a part of your mindfulness practice.

Many of us consider yoga to be another exercise craze. Its true origins are hard to pin down. I won’t bore you with the entire history of yoga from 3000 CE to now. It is, however, important to note that the yoga we see today is a mix of wellness and ancient culture.

Yoga reaches its roots thousands of years. After Its introduction to the global West, yoga transformed. Though it remains a spiritual practice, its deep religious connections shifted. 

Today, we think of yoga as an exercise that strengthens the body and mind. I use yoga to connect my physical and inner selves through the breath, making it very meditative. Many also craft yoga flows as a form of creative expression. 

Yoga practice has had positive effects on my life. I have more confidence to persist in difficult situations. 

Since taking my yoga practice seriously, I have improved my flexibility, strength, and confidence. 

Why Do Yoga and Mindfulness Go Together? 

When you use yoga as a meditative practice, you combine the benefits of physical exertion with mental contemplation. It is a good idea to combine both in your mindfulness practices. 

Combining a sitting and a movement meditation practice deepens the connection between mind and body. There are also a lot of health benefits to both meditation and yoga. 

Yoga is a physical practice that promotes mobility and strength. Meditation can reduce stress and anxiety. Together, these practices deepen your self-development. They are two sides of the same coin. 

What is Mindfulness Yoga?

Mindful yoga is about listening to your body. Through movement, you become aware of your body’s limitations and power. The postures in yoga focus your mind. You are trying to maintain your breath while holding a difficult pose. 

It is easier to be present if you push yourself to hold a side plank for a minute or more. There is also beauty in the transition from one posture to another. You can feel the shift in tension, pressure, and other sensations.  

One of the best ways to reap the most benefits from yoga is to shift from physical to meditative practice. 

7 Ways to Bring Yoga into Your Mindfulness Practice

1. Start Small

Even if you are used to intense exercise, starting slow is a good idea. Yoga uses many movements and muscles you might not be used to. With every new physical activity, there is room for injury.

Try simple movements during your meditation or another mindfulness exercise, like mindful walking. Then, transition into yoga poses and flows. 

There are also thousands of beginner yoga classes available on YouTube. I’ve been following Breath and Flow for their intermediate YouTube classes, but they also have a great beginner course for free.

I may have a different goal and choose a different teacher in a month or so. 

2. Find A Teacher

Yoga is a personal experience, but it is helpful to have someone to help you along the way. In-person classes are a great way to try new flows and get genuine advice from professional yoga instructors and more experienced practitioners. 

There is the bonus of feeling the energy of others. You may need to go to a class to get that motivational energy rush. 

I practice most of my yoga through videos uploaded to YouTube or yoga and mindfulness courses I have purchased. That might not work for you. You may need to have an in-person class with an instructor. Make sure it is someone you can trust. 

3. Study

Foundational knowledge is important in whichever way you choose to learn about yoga. For most of us, yoga is a secular activity. You don’t need to learn scripture to improve in yoga. 

It is helpful to know more about your body. Yoga isn’t just about being bendy, it is also about mobility and how the components of our body work together. 

4. Connect With Your Body

In mediation, we connect with our breath. In yoga, we connect with our breath and our body. The connection we make between our physical selves and our inner selves in yoga is one of the most important parts of the practice. 

5. Make Changes

If you don’t like something change it. If you don’t like Yin yoga, don’t do it. If Vynassana flows are not helpful for your mediation, don’t do them. Find another form of yoga that fosters that internal and external connection. 

Additionally, do not feel like you have to look like your instructor. Everybody is different. If anything in yoga is not accessible to you, modify it or drop it.

6. Push Yourself

However, don’t just stop because it is hard. Our bodies are amazingly adaptable. 

Holding difficult yoga poses reminds me that when something is tough, I focus on my inner self and can make it through. By pushing myself with yoga, I have proven time and time again that I can do it. 

7. End Yoga Practice With Meditation

I end every yoga practice with meditation. If the class is physically intense, the meditation helps me slow my breathing and heart rate and cool down. I then extend my normal cool down with a timed meditation—at least 10 minutes; sometimes, I need more. 

I think of Yoga as a winding up and release of my body. That release of the physical self flows into the release of the mind. 

How I Think About Mindfulness Mediation and Yoga 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how your mindfulness practice looks; it just matters that it helps you on your journey.

Our bodies are more than what we think of as “bodies.” We are also a nervous system powered by electricity. The mind lives within the body as a system that is part of a greater whole. 

Yoga helps make that connection between our electric mental selves and our physical flesh and bones. Try it for yourself. 

FAQ

What is the relationship between yoga and mindfulness?

Both mindfulness and yoga practices place emphasis on the present moment.

What is mindfulness called in yoga?

Your mindfulness yoga practice doesn’t have to have a special name. Shavasana, or corpse pose, is often described as the connection point between physical and mental practice.

What is the best yoga for mindfulness?

The best yoga for mindfulness is the kind of yoga you like and helps you connect better with your body.

Photo of author
Author
Jillian has been on a journey to find peace in the chaos since 2016. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga have helped them keep present. They have been writing as a passion since an early age and writing professionally since 2018.

Leave a Comment