In a study conducted by the Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance this year, it has been found that there is a 50% increase in the number of yoga practitioners in the US compared to the data from 2012. This increase in popularity is traced to the improved balance, strength, dexterity, and mental clarity of those who engage in the practice. Everyone—men and women, young and old, skinny and fat, can benefit from yoga.
While many think that yoga only involves bending one’s body or staying on the mat doing what the instructor says, it’s actually a lot more than that. It is about concentration and understanding your body movements to achieve holistic improvement.
Yoga as a Means to Sharpen the Mind
Yoga affects one’s mental condition in many ways. One of its greatest benefits is that it helps relieve stress. Long-term stress-inducing causes, like family problems, problems at work or losing a loved one, can cause health problems. And when a person suffers from a lot of health problems, s/he is at risk of depression. Luckily, it has been proven that a 15-20-minute Yoga exercise can help lower down one’s depression level.
Moreover, a short session of yoga can assist one in gaining mental alertness. According to the study conducted by the University of Illinois, deep breathing employed in the exercise increases the chance of improving a person’s information retention skill.
Yoga Used to Ease Bodily Pain
Dr. Nevins once said, “The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headache and carpal tunnel syndrome.” It is also a good preventive measure against hypertension and anemia as it regulates the flow of blood and increases the red blood cell count in two different ways: doing breathing exercises and engaging in special asanas.
By doing continuous yoga sessions, people can observe notable improvement in their flexibility and balance. Balancing, in turn, strengthens and tones the muscles. In other words, it helps a person achieve a strong and healthy body.
Yoga in Addressing Spiritual Needs
People spend most of their time planning their future and thinking about the past. They tend to control their lives based on the goals they’ve set and avoiding the mistakes they’ve made. Living life under immense control can only lead to chronic unhappiness. Yoga offers an escape from the past and the future as it lets one think of what is going on at the moment and relax one’s mind through breathing and pose exercises.
Yoga is also used as a means to fulfill a person’s need to search for life’s meaning. Some people travel to find themselves; however, it’s not the place that will help them achieve this. What they actually need is a serious spiritual practice. By appreciating all asana poses of yoga; may these be painful or pleasurable, a person may be able successfully find out their life’s purpose.
Lastly, yoga promotes detachment from material things. Yogis believe that people should not attach themselves to physical and worldly needs. This value can be traced in the absence of any equipment to perform the exercises. To a practitioner of yoga, all things, including the mind and the body, are only tools in achieving the goal of life. This way of thinking can make people appreciate everything exactly for what they’re worth.
With all the listed benefits, it’s clear that the exercise has put strict emphasis on a person’s general well-being—mind, body, and spirit. Once, the World Health Organization said, “Better health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more.” With yoga, people found the simplest way of achieving a balanced health.