It's calming, it's soothing and it has become increasingly trendy over the last 10 years. Yoga is no longer just a pastime for health nuts, vegetarians and Buddhists. In fact, a study cited by the Yoga Alliance says that the number of people doing yoga in American during 2016 is 36 million from the 20 million it was back in 2012. It seems that more people are catching on to the benefits that seasoned yogis have been reaping for years. If you've yet to hit the mat, here are six life-changing reasons why you should.
A Healthier Body
Yoga's health benefits are no secret. The practice offers an increase in flexibility, strength and balance that is achieved in a combo unlike any other form of exercise. According to the American Osteopathic Association, the stretching and muscle toning of yoga can help in decreasing arthritis pain, chronic pain, lower back pain, stopping insomnia and decreasing blood pressure. And, looking at a study cited by Harvard Health Publications, researchers found that a group of sedentary subjects who began doing yoga twice a week for at least 180 minutes, gained muscle strength, cardio-respiratory fitness and endurance.
A More Positive Body Image
Exercising in general can increase the positivity of a person's body image but yoga goes even further by helping to soothe the mind and promote self-love. The practice focuses on appreciating one's body and being grateful for its ability to withstand poses. Yoga draws people inward to focus on the moment and lose the sense of a self image that focuses on the outside.
Better Eating Habits
As yoga makes people more conscious of their relationship between mind and body, the practice tends to draw them towards healthier diets. As yoga teaches mindfulness throughout each and every class, students tend to become more mindful in other areas of their lives. Prevention even cited a Consumer Report that asked over a thousand psychologists what strategies were best to get rid of weight and keep it off. A huge majority linked it to stress-reduction and emotional eating, both seemingly combated by the stress relief of practicing yoga.
Positive Emotions and a Sense of Spirituality
Practicing yoga is meant to instill positive thoughts and emotions into the people who practice it. Teachers typically stress that their students do their best, forgive themselves for what they can't do and accept what they can. The spirituality in yoga allows a deeper connection with themselves and a broader understanding of their place in the world. Since these positive emotions carry over so well into ever day life, other schools of thought are using yoga to achieve this. Therapists seem to be increasingly using yoga as a way to reduce stress and anxiety in their patients and progressive rehab clinics are beginning to utilize the practice to treat addictions. Progressive institutions like Beachway Therapy Center have even put out articles breaking down why exactly they encourage yoga practice in patients that are trying to overcome their addictions.
A Sense of Community
If practicing yoga creates healthy, happy and spiritually conscious people, imagine the energy that comes from a whole room full of them. Yoga communities can be found all over the world and are notorious for being welcoming and non-judgmental to their peers. According to this article by Huffington Post, research shows that body issues among women are heightened and easily affected by their peers. The positivity surrounding the members of the yoga community can help all participants to feel comfortable within a group of like-minded people.
Since yoga is a practice, students are encouraged to accept that they may not be able to do all of the poses at first. Using gratitude, self-discipline and acceptance, people practicing yoga gradually build confidence as they achieve higher levels and can get into more difficult poses. Through a tight knit and supportive community as well as a new way of thinking positively, a boost in confidence is a welcome by-product.
Have you tried yoga yet? What benefits have you found?