If you’ve ever tried yoga you know amazing the practice is to one’s overall health and well being. Apart from working out and toning the body, when practiced properly, yoga teaches a person mindfulness and how to cultivate a new type of attention. Much the same as what is learned during mindfulness meditation, yoga shows a person how not to react to one’s thoughts, but rather, how to disengage from the monkey mind that is the source of many people’s troubles.
In this recent Forbes post, Alice G. Walton compares the two practices, yoga and mindfulness meditation, citing the profound benefits each has to offer. According to Walton, although yoga is physical in nature, it’s ability to generate self-regulation, similar to that of mindfulness meditation, makes it a powerful tool in treating such medical issues as stress, depression, and addiction.
In other words, yoga teaches a new kind of attention. People who practice yoga learn how to accept all the stress-inducing thoughts that flit around in one’s head – negative self-talk, worries, snap judgments – as just that: thoughts, and nothing more. Since reacting to our thoughts is typically what gets us into trouble, learning to attend to them and accept them nonjudgmentally is key. Then we can let them go, says Cope, and “make wise choices – not based on reactivity to these states, but on our best interests.”
This idea of paying attention to one’s thoughts in a nonjudgmental way is what mindfulness meditation, or mindfulness training, is all about. This ancient practice has gained a lot of interest from researchers (and regular folk) in recent years. Scientists have studied how mindfulness courses can change people’s reactions and behaviors, and how they can literally change the structure of the brain. Attentional training and mindfulness have been shown to provide major benefits in treating everything from stress and depression to serious addictions. And yoga seems to work in much the same way.
Read more from Walton on the benefits of meditation and yoga here.