Green has a post about Yoga which got me thinking about what I have gotten out of yoga and meditation.
Meditation came first, and eventually led to my being almost comfortable taking a VERY beginning yoga class.
In a word, meditation gave me Perspective.
As a journeyman perfectionist of long standing, I was, after much trying and reading, able to let go of the notion of "doing it right". I help this acceptance by thinking of it as "Practicing Meditation" rather than DOING it. It takes the pressure off, and reduces the negative self talk when I catch my mind wandering. I just begin again. It was by watching my thoughts intrude, welling up out of nowhere, and feeling my reactions to the thoughts that I realized that thoughts are only in my mind and are not REAL things. They come and go, and I can watch them or not. When emotions attach to the thoughts, I can chose to fully feel them, or let them pass by going back to concentrating on awareness of my breathing.
So rather than BEING an emotion now, I try to just FEEL the emotion. I am not perfect or consistent in my practice, and actually, I don't formally meditate much anymore unless I'm feeling stressed.
As for Yoga, I take a very beginning yoga class. I have learned to not overdo the poses most of the time. I have learned to let go of those poses that are impossible for me. I try to laugh inside thinking "yah right, what should I do while you're doing that?" I have learned to quiet my inner perfectionist most of the time. You're not supposed to compare yourself to others, but I usually look to see if anyone else's knees are next to their ears when sitting cross legged. I take a perverse pride in being the "worst" student. I figure that anyone else who's comparing can say "Well, I'm better than HIM."
I'm usually the only guy, and oldest person there. But I'm there.
I'm pushing for a "Geezer yoga" class.
The Guided meditation at the end of yoga is different than individual meditation where one can just concentrate on the breath.
To borrow from 12 step programs, "Take what you can use, and leave the rest"