Yoga and Mindfulness are generally seen as a way to release stress and tension.
Yoga and mindfulness are often mentioned in the same breath.
This time I will tell you about the difference between yoga and mindfulness. Because of course yoga and mindfulness are related to each other, but they are certainly not the same!
First: what is yoga?
In the West, we know yoga mainly from physical yoga postures such as the Bow, the Seated Twist, and the Eagle. But yoga is much more than that. Yoga is originally practiced according to the eightfold path with the aim of achieving ‘enlightenment. This eightfold path is described by Patanjali in an important ancient scripture, the Yoga Sutras. The path includes:
- personal discipline
- breathing exercises
- physical exercises
- a number of commandments including non-violence
And you really don’t have to walk the whole eightfold path to benefit from yoga. But you can see yoga as a way to achieve a lighter life.
Practicing yoga regularly makes your body more flexible and your mind can become calmer. In general, you become more aware of what you feel, who you are, and how you react, especially in everyday life. There are different types of yoga, so there is bound to be something that suits you.
And what is mindfulness then?
The ‘founder’ of mindfulness as we know it, especially in the West, is Jon Kabat Zinn. His definition of mindfulness is:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way..on purpose..in the present moment..and without judgement” John Kabat-Zinn
We live in a world of constant information flows, incentives, multitasking, and stress.
Did you know that in 1 week we have to process as many stimuli as our ancestors from 150 years ago in their entire lives?
- Driving to work and not remembering how your got there
- working on your laptop while watching TV & eating
- having a conversation while making a shopping list
We are almost never fully focused on what we do. Our mind is constantly in the past or the future. And we are constantly judging in the form of better, less, faster, and more fun.
Mindfulness means that we pay full attention to what we are doing and what is happening inside or outside of us right now, without judging it. You can actually do anything mindful or not mindful:
- mindful eating
- mindful exercise
- practicing mindful yoga
What are the similarities between Yoga and Mindfulness?
Yoga and mindfulness have in common that you become more aware of your body and mind when you practice it. In yoga, this mainly happens through the physical way and in mindfulness through attention.
Furthermore, with both, you will develop more non-judgment. With mindfulness by looking at everything that is happening now without judgment and with yoga by respecting your physical limits, for example.
A number of possible results are also the same, such as: experiencing less (work) stress, sleeping better, and enjoying life more.
What are the differences between yoga and mindfulness?
One of the main differences is that in our Western approach to yoga, the physical aspect is a prerequisite, while in mindfulness it doesn’t have to be. You can also sit very mindfully.
Furthermore, mindfulness is at its core ‘attention training’, which makes you especially aware of the patterns and habits in your head and system. You can also develop this with yoga, but that is not the focus.
What is the influence of mindfulness on stress?
Mindfulness is generally seen as a way to release stress and tension. In everyday life, you may find that you are often distracted by thoughts about the future or the past. For example:
- you worry about what you wish you had done differently
- you worry about that argument you had yesterday
- you keep thinking about what could go wrong at that important meeting tomorrow
Because of these thoughts, you are never really in the now, in the moment. Worrying also causes additional stress. With mindfulness, you can practice getting more ‘in the present´ and let go of your thoughts about the future or past.