Originally an Eastern philosophy, but now popular with the Western world too. More than that: yoga is becoming a rage. In fact, yoga is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. On 21 June 2015 – on the initiative of the United Nations – the first International Yoga Day took place. What is the secret of yoga?
Yoga finds its origins in Hinduism and represents mastery over body, mind and emotion. There are different variations, but in the West hatha-yoga in particular is popular: the yogi carries out a series of movements in combination with meditation and breathing exercises. The yogi finds balance and experiences mental and physical relaxation. Anyone with a healthy body can, after putting in some effort, learn to do the exercises. Not convinced? Discover 5 reasons to give yoga a chance:
- Yoga keeps you fit and limber. Yoga exercises require strength, mobility and balance. The wide variety of movements challenge your body in different ways. After consistent practice, you will soon notice the difference: you will become stronger and more limber.
- Yoga improves your breathing. Yoga is inextricably linked to pranayama (breathing exercises). You learn to breathe slowly and deeply which results in better lung function. Your body takes in more oxygen and is stimulated to relax.
- Yoga lessens the physical effects of stress. If you are under too much stress, your body produces extra cortisol. Yoga helps to decrease the levels of this hormone. That is good for your blood pressure, your digestion and your immune system. It is also beneficial at night because cortisol disrupts your sleep pattern.
- Yoga helps you live in the ‘here and now’. Yoga has a meditative character. That might sound a bit out there but it’s not: it’s about becoming more aware of the present moment. With yoga you can quickly let go of the madness of the day, and find inner peace.
- Yoga helps in between the yoga lessons too. Once you have started doing yoga you will soon discover that it is a way of life. Yoga doesn’t just help you to stay fit and relax, but also to consider your intentions. It’s not about what you do but why you do it. Passing judgment is absolutely not done: there is no right or wrong, only the path you walk. You benefit from this frame of mind both inside and outside the gym.
The word ‘yoga’ comes from Sanskrit and means, among other things, ‘reborn’. That is precisely what brings many participants to the yoga mat. It’s a place to break the daily rut, neutralise stress and stop the constant avalanche of information. It’s only logical that yoga’s popularity is growing.