What I learned about Yoga through Vipassana

Throughout the meditation course I found many similarities between meditation and yoga:

1. Work, Practice:

You wont see results (mental or physical) if you don’t, period. Roll out your mat, find a quiet place to focus on your breath, do it when you don’t want to. You’ll never regret it.

2. Patience, Persistence:

Yoga, meditation, and life…so many things can seem too hard, too impossible. You’re ready to quit before starting. Don’t. Keep up the work, you will see results—and the funny thing is you have no idea what they will be for you.

3. This too shall change: Impermanence:

In our meditation practice we were instructed to experience sensations in our bodies and not react to them. When we observed these sensations, we realize they eventually pass away or another sensation crops up taking our awareness off the first sensation. The same is true with our yoga practice, we may struggle with Pose A but it’s always followed by Pose B, followed by Pose C, etc. In our practice and our life, change is the only constant. It’s helpful to intellectually know this but to understand it we must experience the sensation and then let it go.

Yoga, unlike meditation, is a physical practice. One should experience sensations during yoga but determining when and how to react to them is up to us as individuals. Some sensations in yoga should be reacted to (like intense pain!).

4. Gross to Subtle:

I first heard this terminology from Peg of Ashtanga Dispatch during teacher training. It was refreshing to come back to the concept when practicing Vipassana, which focuses on narrowing body sensations from the gross (feeling hot/cold or the touch of your clothes) to the subtle (which for me feels like prana). Thankfully because of my yoga practice, I was able to connect with these subtle sensations quickly—the hard part was not reacting to them!

5. Mind over Matter:

The asana isn’t the hardest part—whether it’s a yoga pose or sitting for meditation. The physical body’s work is easier than training your mind to overcome the voices craving more of one sensation or degrading our ability which prevents us to discover new edges in our practice. When we can overcome our egos we can deepen our practice, automatically improving our lives off the mat.