In 2016, it was found that “36.7 million Americans or 15 percent of U.S. adults practice yoga, which is up from 20.4 million in 2012”, according to a report released by The Yoga Alliance, The Yoga Journal, and the Ipsos Public Affairs. In addition, in the same report, it stated that out of those 36.7 million individuals, thirty-four percent (80 million Americans) will likely practice yoga at some point in the next twelve months, which demonstrates the true concept of yoga being a life-long journey. Aside from these statistics, let me break down what yoga is and how it can significantly improve your life.
Yoga can be defined as a Hindu theistic philosophy that teaches the suppression of all activity of the body and mind for the inner self to realize its distinction from them while attaining liberation. However, yoga can also be defined as a system of exercises for attaining all-around well-being as well as bodily or mental control. The meaning of yoga is much deeper than its definition though, especially due to the wide array of benefits yoga provides people with including but not limited to a peace of mind, reduced anxiety, tension and pain, increased mindfulness, flexibility and balance, improved mood and coordination, as well as increased muscle tone and overall strength. Aside from these positive changes, yoga brings people many different emotional and spiritual benefits, which vary based on each individual.
Regarding the cultural and spiritual background of yoga, it was first introduced thousands of years ago in India, and its intention was to treat various medical conditions. The usefulness yoga possesses is something very special because it has not only survived into the present day, but it has also flourished in locations all over the world. What also makes this spiritual system of movements unique consists of the convenience and simplicity factors. Users do not need special shoes, clothes, or equipment to do yoga; all you need is a mat of some sort, your breath, your undivided attention, and water to stay hydrated.
People all over the world practice yoga whether it’s in their backyard, a park, the gym, a yoga studio, inside their apartment or house, in a car or train, or anywhere while traveling and exploring the great outdoors. By devoting your time and effort into yoga, you are investing in yourself and your overall well-being. At the end of the day, don’t you want to feel like you took care of your mind, body, and soul, even if it was only for ten minutes a day?
Oftentimes, we as humans get too wrapped up and/or consumed in our own thoughts, feelings, and overall stress, which manifests into our conscious and subconscious mind. By devoting time into the practice of yoga, you can surrender to the specific movements, you can focus on your breathing and the rhythm of it, and of course, you can surrender to yourself and feeling everything deeply and mindfully.
All in all, yoga provides all kinds of people with peace and contentment, which are two main aspects the rest of the world desperately needs. Not matter what your reason or intention is when you do yoga, the effort and willpower is there, and that alone shows your willingness to improve and develop within your practice even further.
In the same yoga study referenced above, the top three reasons people do yoga consist of the enjoyment of yoga itself, yoga’s impact on an individual’s health, and yoga as a stress reliever. If you desire to improve your overall well-being, relieve any stress, tension, and/or pain, or are itching to try a different form of spiritual exercise, yoga is definitely for you! Even if you don’t fall into any of those three categories though, don’t sweat it because everybody commits to yoga based off of their individualized intentions and reasons. Just remember that yoga can fit into any lifestyle while also delivering positive and life-changing benefits, so what are you waiting for? Make a change, invest in your mind, body, and soul, and enjoy the journey.
Fishman, Loren. Healing Yoga: Proven Postures to Treat Twenty Common Ailments — from Backache to Bone Loss, Shoulder Pain to Bunions, and More. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2015. (Book)
Rahmouni, Othmane. “The Surprising Findings from the Latest Study about Yoga in America in 2016.” Seattle Yoga News. Seattle Yoga News, 27 July 2016. Web. 5 June 2017.
“Yoga.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 June 2017.