If you think that yoga is just about becoming more flexible and chanting a few oms, think again. Created in India over 5,000 years ago, yoga is meant to bring union to the body, mind and spirit. Today, more than 20 million Americans roll out their mats and practice postures like triangle pose, headstands and warrior sequence.
Here are five of the top reasons:
1. Reduces Stress
Yoga attracts individuals who are looking for productive ways to reduce the stress in their lives. The postures in combination with the deep yoga breathing creates an inner awareness of our how our bodies and minds are intricately intertwined. For instance, as you enter into a difficult pose, you observe how your mind reacts to the challenge and how your breath and body work together to move through the posture in a non-reactive manner.
2. Spiritual Curiosity
Most of us in the West grew up going to church every Sunday. As we have gotten older, we may have started to question the doctrines of institutionalized religion and sought out on our own path to discover what spirituality means to us. Yoga, although steeped in Hindu tradition, does not require that you believe in a certain God or attend a specific church to be a practitioner. What it does is offer a holistic approach to how we view our selves and those around us. Its tenets of practicing non-judgment and harmlessness separates itself from denominational religions and instead promotes a whole-body approach to mental, emotional and physical health.
3. Improves Health
Studies from India to the National Institutes of Health are looking at how a regular yoga practice can provide health benefits such as reducing lower back pain, controlling asthma, lowering blood pressure and controlling weight. Yoga has also been shown to treat the symptoms associated with hyperactivity disorder, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis.
4. It’s a great workout
Take an Ashtanga or Bikram yoga class and you’ll quickly experience how challenging yoga can be. The postures raise your heart rate and strengthen and tone your muscles as you lift your own body weight through a series of postures. It’s no wonder that fitness buffs like Madonna and Jennifer Aniston are dedicated yogis.
5. It’s for Every Body
Yoga does accomplishes two primary things that are so lacking in today’s processed and virtual world: It engenders peace and it does wonders for your physical body. With so many different styles of yoga to choose from, there is something for everybody.
February 15th, 2009