Yoga has become a popular form of exercise in the U.S. in recent years.
In fact, from 2012 to 2020, the number of yoga participants in the U.S. increased from 20.4 million to over 55 million people.
During National Yoga Awareness Month, we look to shine a light on this powerful practice as a way to improve physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
In today’s article, we’ll be talking about what yoga is, its origin, the risks and benefits, and how you can include yoga practice in your wellness routine.
Keep reading to find out more!
What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient and complex practice that stems from Indian philosophy. We can trace its origin back to northern India over 5000 years ago.
Originally thought of as a spiritual practice, yoga has become a method to promote physical and mental well-being too. Today, yoga is a worldwide practiced technique for spirituality and mental and physical health.
Classical yoga embodies many elements, but in the United States it places a large emphasis on:
- Physical postures
- Breathing techniques
There are many different forms of yoga. Some are more physically demanding, and others are more gentle and calming.
A few of the most popular forms of yoga practiced in the U.S. include:
- Yin yoga - this is a slower-paced, gentle yoga where you stay in supported positions that are held for longer periods of time.
- Hatha yoga - Hatha combines a variety of poses with breathing techniques. It is one of the most common forms of yoga practiced today.
- Hot yoga - this is a more vigorous form of yoga that's performed in a very humid and warm studio.
- Iyengar yoga - this practice focuses on detailed and precise movements as well as alignment. In a session of Iyengar, practitioners take different postures while they control their breath.
These are just some of the many yoga practices out there. There are a variety of options to choose from, no matter your experience and skill level.
Are there risks?
When performed properly and under the guidance of a qualified instructor, yoga is a safe practice.
But are there risks otherwise?
Just like any form of physical exercise, there’s a risk of strains, sprains, and more. But the risk is less likely compared to more physically demanding forms of activity.
To best prevent injuries from occurring, you should:
- Practice with a qualified teacher
- Avoid more dangerous and extreme practices like headstands unless you are physically ready for advanced techniques
- Be aware of any risks specific to the form of yoga you are practicing. For example, hot yoga, where there’s the possibility of dehydration and overheating.
What are the benefits?
What are the benefits of yoga?
There are a variety of benefits to practicing yoga. Some benefits might include:
- Weight loss
- Stress relief
- Improved sleep
- Improved balance
- Improved quality of life
- Support for quitting smoking
- Relieved neck and back pain
- Relieved menopause symptoms
- Improved mental and emotional health
- Increased ability to manage anxiety and/or depression
Research suggests yoga can help improve asleep. It’s also said to relieve symptoms of arthritis, and it may even contribute to healthier hearts due to its ability to relieve stress and reduce inflammation.
If you’re looking to get into yoga, we recommend you find a qualified teacher or Yogi. Being new puts you at risk of making mistakes in your form and technique.
Following guidance from a professional can reduce the risk of injury, improve the benefits, and lead to a better experience.
How to take part in Yoga Awareness Month?
How can you take part in Yoga Awareness Month?
You can take part this month by not only educating yourself on the many aspects of yoga, but also by spreading awareness.
You might have a friend, family member, or coworker who's dealing with neck pain, or maybe they're looking to improve their mental and physical health with an all-in-one practice.
Recommending and sharing what you’ve learned in this article can help them make a decision about trying yoga.
You can share what you know in person, or on social media.
The idea is to spread the word and encourage people to take part.
Conclusion - Yoga Awareness Month
Whether you’re looking to get more exercise or practice a form of mindfulness, yoga could be a great choice for you!
As it increases in popularity, and more studies help us understand the benefits involved with this practice, we’re slowly learning how it can improve our quality of life.
Did you learn anything new?
If you did, make sure to share this article with a friend or family member who you think could benefit from adding some yoga to their daily routine!