Despite that fact that yoga is incredibly hip in modern culture, the ancient practice has many benefits for health and happiness. Although it is promoted as a panacea for optimal well-being, yoga is still a mystery to many people. For those who have never stepped onto a mat or into a classroom, a brief background is in order.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in Bethesda, Maryland, yoga is a mind-body discipline that originated in ancient India. Comprised of gentle meditative movements, yoga is basically safe and effective for everyone. There are yoga classes for seniors, children, athletes and even pregnant women.
Yoga combines various physical poses and breathing exercises with meditation and a distinct Eastern philosophy. Many Americans who use it for health reasons practice Hatha yoga, which includes many different styles. With guidance from a trained yoga instructor, the exercise offers huge benefits with very few side effects.
Why should Americans include yoga as part of their regular workouts? Even in this new century, the ancient practice offers many desirable benefits. Here are five reasons that hip, happy and healthy people practice yoga.
1. Inner Peace
Yoga promotes contentment and inner peace. While athletes, overachievers and Type A personalities may not immediately grasp this significance, peace and contentment are fundamental to their tasks. All yoga, no matter the intensity, promotes relaxation and calmness. People who are at peace with themselves are happier, healthier individuals.
2. Flexibility and Strength
People who practice yoga for many weeks or months enjoy stronger, more flexible bodies from morning to night. Through gentle stretches and focused poses, yoga works the muscles, tissues and bones. It improves core body strength and enables flexible movements. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Glen Axelrod states, “Yoga is excellent for strengthening both flexibility and balance.”
3. Healthy Appearance
Men and women who practice yoga are healthier, more attractive people. Their healthy, fit appearance is the result of yoga’s physical and psychological benefits. People who practice yoga on a regular basis cannot help but look toned and sculpted, and this helps them feel better about themselves too.
4. Body Awareness
People who practice yoga have a keen sense of their bodies and how the body works. Yoga increases the respect they have for their bodies. As a result, they are less likely to overeat and more likely to get adequate rest. Additionally, yoga heightens sexual pleasure.