Yoga & Meditation



I would like to ask what is the relationship between yoga and meditation?

Can you do one without the other?

thanks Angela


Angela, hi. Interesting question. The way that the terms 'yoga' and 'meditation' are traditionally used, is quite confusing.

Sometimes, 'yoga' is being referred to as 'physical postures', though technically, it should be referred to as 'hatha yoga' or 'astanga yoga'. At other times, the term 'yoga' is given a philosophical meaning i.e. 'yoga' meaning the coming together of two seemingly separate things (eg. 'mind' and 'body') into a harmonious unity. Etymologically, 'yoga' means 'to join' or to 'yoke'.

So in texts, the word 'yoga' either refers to a physical activity or at other times, to the completeness of the process i.e. achieving the ultimate state of 'yoga'.

In the west, generally speaking, and I assume this is the way that you are using the word 'yoga', it is referring to the application of physical postures.

So to answer your question. 'Yoga' in the above sense, is a method of practice. It is not the only method. There are many legitimate methods of practice aimed at bringing a deep and significant transformation of consciousness. So, yes, meditation can be successfully practiced WITHOUT any yoga practice. Most traditions of Buddhism, including Zen, do not use 'yoga' methodology.

Yoga as a method of practice in conjunction with meditation is primarily a Hindu-based tradition, practiced by 'yogis'. Not all meditators, Hindu or otherwise are 'yogis' in the technical sense i.e. practice physical yoga routines. At the same time, bhakti yogis ,who follow the path of devotion, and jnana yogis, who follow the path of one-pointed intellect, are called 'yogis', yet, generally they do not use physical yoga practices. In both these cases, the term 'yogi' is used in the previously mentioned 'completeness of the process' sense. So, once again, it shows that 'yoga' in the sense of postures, is not necessary for someone following the bhakti or jnana path.

Now, the path of Mind-Yoga is a kundalini yoga meditation tradition. In this tradition, my tradition, physical yoga is a component, along with meditation practice, and the process that unfolds is that of kundalini (the 'awakening' of the energy of inner consciousness). So within this tradition, we harmonize the energies of the body thru 'yoga', and we still the restless mind thru meditation techniques, and we use the energy of the breath (prana) in order to unite the consciousness of the mind and body.

So, Angela, if you come to me, you will do 'yoga' and 'meditation'. If you go to a teacher of another tradition, you may not do any 'yoga' as posture, though the ultimate aim will be 'yoga' in the sense of 'union'.

II hope this long-winded answer helps

x Dean