woman meditating near a lake

Should One Meditate Before or After Yoga?

Meditation and yoga both provide amazing benefits on their own, and when combined, it maximizes the beneficial results that people go for. It’s not just a significant improvement on physical health; meditation and yoga also gives people better moods, manages their stress levels, and even helps them build muscle and flexibility. Some studies even suggest that meditation helps men have better prostate health.

But again, both methods have their own benefits: meditating before yoga helps you get into the right mindset, refocuses your breathing, and generally prepares you for the physical and mental rigor of yoga. On the other hand, meditating after yoga helps you relax your muscles, reduces cortisol levels (this is the brain chemical that causes stress), and generally unwinds you and clears your mind.

Whether or not you do your meditation before or after yoga doesn’t matter; both have their own types of benefits! Of course, it’s still dependent on each individual, but in general, there is no hard prescription on whether you should do yoga before meditation or meditating before yoga. The best rule to follow: do what is comfortable for you.

Benefits of Doing Meditation Before Yoga

woman doing hand stand near the beach
Image by Irina Logra from Pixabay

Choosing to meditate before doing yoga prepares you both physically and mentally, putting you in the right head space to perform your workout. However, there are other benefits to enjoy as well:

Increased Stamina

While yoga is low-intensity, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t difficult; yoga pushes both body and mind to its limits, albeit in a gentle, but steady manner. In doing so, your body needs to be able to maintain many of the positions and poses that yoga workouts demand, and meditating beforehand is a good way to increase your stamina.

This is because meditation creates a kind of altered state of consciousness, where your mind and body become in sync; this means that you have a more conscious command over your body, while your mind is more attuned to what your body can or cannot do, thus maximizing your yoga routine while being mindful of injuries.

Can Reduce Signs of Depression

Unfortunately, millions of people both here and around the world suffer from depression. Many people feel stuck in a constant state of sadness and hopelessness, with some even developing suicidal thoughts. But depression doesn’t just affect the mind: depression has been known to lower the overall physical health of a person, affecting their hormones and causing drastic weight gain/loss, acne outbreaks, hairfall, and other unfortunate side effects.

While yoga is a great exercise for depressive people because of its low-intensity and gentle nature, depressive people who meditate before doing yoga can greatly increase the dopamine and oxytocin that your brain naturally releases during yoga. This is because meditation allows your brain to clear itself and start over, meaning depressive people can put a temporary stop to their negative thoughts and allow positive thoughts to come in and motivate them.

Meditation is a great way to manage symptoms of depression; that being said, it’s always best to seek professional psychiatric help if you’re seeing signs of depression in you or your loved one.)

Here are some yoga poses you can do after meditating:

Ardha Matsyendrasana

This pose allows your body to expand its chest cavity, increasing the supply of oxygen to your lungs and stretching out your upper core muscles. It also helps make your spine supple, allowing for more flexibility later on.

Hastapadasana

This pose is a great way to start your yoga routine after meditating because it promotes healthy blood flow, which in turn invigorates your nervous system, making you more aware and mindful of your own body. It’s also an efficient way to stretch out most, if not all, your back muscles in a single pose.

Trikonasana

One of the most important poses you can do after meditating, the Trikonasana pose is known to reduce anxiety, stress, and promotes a growing sense of calm and harmony between body and mind.

Benefits of Doing Meditation After Yoga

woman meditating after doing yoga

Because of the physical and mental rigor that yoga puts your body through, meditating after doing yoga not only relaxes your body, it also helps your mind continue to feel the positive benefits long after your workout ends. Here are other benefits you can expect from meditating after yoga:

Increased Recovery

Although yoga is fairly low-intensity compared to other workouts, it still puts your body through a large amount of stress. Meditation helps your muscles recover from the stress, thereby reducing pain, and most importantly, reducing instances of injuries. This is possible because meditation allows your nervous system to shut down unnecessary functions and lets it focus on releasing the right chemicals for repairing muscle tissues.

Meditation also allows a person’s mind to reframe the way a person views pain; trauma to muscles can send the brain into crisis mode, facilitating the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Even small amounts of pain could let your brain release a large amount of cortisol into your system, increasing stress levels and ironically reducing recovery rates.

By meditating, your brain is not focused on the pain, but rather on recovery, thus decreasing the intensity of the pain, increasing recovery, and reducing stress levels.

Increases Muscle Growth

Muscle building is one of those unintended but fairly positive side effects of yoga; the practice of yoga is less about building larger muscle mass and more about creating harmony between the body and the mind.

And yet, it does: yoga’s been known to build muscle, and meditation also greatly maximizes the muscle-building effects of yoga. This is because meditation allows your brain more time and power to balance hormones in your body, including somatotropin or the human growth hormone, which is essential for muscle growth.

Here are some yoga poses you can do before meditating:

Sun Salutation

The Sun Salutation is a series of poses that flow into one another as an uninterrupted sequence, allowing your body to limber up in an easy and relaxing manner. It was originally designed to give thanks to the sun, the ancient and ever-present giver of life. By doing this pose before meditating, you’re increasing your feelings of calm and harmony, allowing you to get into a meditative state much easier later.

Breath of life

The Breath of Life pose helps your body maximize the amount of oxygen it takes in with every breath. First, stand with your feet apart, then breathe in while opening your arms to the side with face-up plans. Breathe out, then as you do, tilt your head and arms back while raising your head as you breathe in again.

Breathe out again, and lower your head and bring your arms around you into a big hug. This provides your body with a hit of dopamine, helping your brain focus and giving you a sense of happiness, both of which help you enter a meditative state later on.

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