The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation

By Molly Ryan

A photo of an individual in a state of zen. Picture by Jared Rice on Unsplash.

Are you feeling stressed or anxious? Meditation can help you clear your mind, and yoga will relax you. When practiced together, these disciplines can strengthen the connection between mind and body. The physical and mental benefits of both practices are endless.


Focusing on stretching, breathing and relaxing all in one is one of the oldest forms of exercise. Yoga has been practiced for over a thousand years, and it originates from ancient India. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to yoke,” or “to unite.” The practice aims to create a union between body, mind and spirit. 

A SUNY Plattsburgh yoga class. Picture by Saanvi Moryani.


Meditation can give you a sense of calmness, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Meditation is to the mind what physical exercise is to the body. The word “meditate” actually means to think deeply about something. 

There are endless benefits to yoga and meditation. Creating a connection between mind and body is something that will assist you in many aspects of your life. 

Saanvi Moryani is a freshman yoga instructor at SUNY Plattsburgh. She has been practicing yoga and meditation for as long as she can remember. 

“My mother, who was also a yoga teacher, introduced me to these practices when I was a child, and they have been a part of my daily life ever since. Growing up in India, yoga and meditation were an integral part of the culture, and I learned many different styles and techniques from various teachers over the years,” Moryani said. 

Moryani said she started teaching yoga after going to a couple of group exercises classes on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus. 

“I attended a few group exercise classes and spoke to the group exercise director Connie Fesette about my interest in yoga. To my surprise, she offered me a job as a yoga instructor at SUNY Plattsburgh,” Moryani said. 

Teaching yoga has been incredibly beneficial for Moryani. Seeing students come into class stressed and anxious and then leaving feeling relaxed and centered is rewarding for her. She has learned so much about herself and her students, and she believes it is a privilege to be able to share her knowledge with others to improve their health.


Students in a flexible heavy pose. Picture by Saanvi Moryani.

      Flexibility focuses more on yoga, rather than meditation. While doing yoga, you will be putting your body into positions where your flexibility skills will be used. Yoga poses work by stretching your muscles. If you keep doing the same poses over and over, your flexibility will increase and the positions will become easier for your body. 

      2. STRENGTH

        Yoga increases muscle endurance because you typically hold any given pose for a period of time and repeat it several times during a yoga workout. Your posture will also increase through these poses and help you sit and stand up straighter.


        Even though meditation is something you do through your mind, it can reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression and high blood pressure. As someone with a bad back and bad hips, practicing yoga has helped the pain tremendously.

        Spirituality zen. Picture by  Activedia on Pixabay.


        Nicole Svanter is a junior yoga instructor at SUNY Plattsburgh. She was originally a fitness and wellness major when she started teaching. She was planning on teaching spin, but decided on yoga at the end of her sophomore year. 

        “I practiced yoga consistently in high school, and I had to go through training to become an instructor,” Svanter said.

        Svanter does two different styles of yoga. She practices Hatha and Vinyasa. She describes Hatha yoga as basic yoga. It is more simple and slow for beginners. When describing Vinyasa, she explains it as a flow. When practicing it, she said you should try to match your breaths with each pose, to create the flow Vinyasa should have. 


          During meditation and yoga, we develop self awareness and mindfulness by acknowledging our internal and external thoughts. 

          “Yoga helps with becoming more aware of your surroundings, and even who you are as a person,” Svanter said. “It also helps with shifting your focus inward and tapping into your emotional well being.” 


          No, yoga and meditation is not a cure for mental illness, and if you are struggling please do not be afraid to talk to someone. Although not a cure, it can help you on those stressed filled days. 

          3. BETTER US AS PEOPLE

            Being one with your thoughts can be a real eye opener for most people. You start to realize things you never noticed before. These practices can help us develop a greater sense of compassion, empathy and gratitude, which can improve our relationships with others.

            A woman stretching. Picture by  StockSnap on Pixabay.

            Something that Moryani said really emphasized an important point. “By taking care of our bodies through yoga and meditation, we can live a healthier and more fulfilling life.” 

            Yoga and meditation are practices that everyone should at least try. Shut off your phone, grab a yoga mat and relax.

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