The origin of the yoga practice dates back over 5,000 years. You can trace back its history, from Vedic yoga to pre-classical, classical, and post-classical yoga to modern yoga. This practice has evolved into what it is today: a mind and body exercise!
Globally, there are over 200 million yogis or yoginis. In the United States alone, almost 40 million people are practicing yoga.1 This figure has substantially increased by 50% from 2012 to 2016. Now, for every six Americans, at least two have tried yoga.
While 28% are male, 72% of those practicing yoga are female. Also, 43% of yoga practitioners are 30 to 40 years old, 38% are 18 to 29 years old, and 19% are 50 years old and above. Surprisingly, even children have taken the plunge into yoga. Almost two million children have enrolled in yoga classes in the United States.2
The global yoga industry was worth $37,462.5 million in 2019. It could reach $66,226.4 million by 2027 with a Compound Annual Growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6% from 2021 to 2027.3 And the number continues to grow. There must be some good reasons why people venture into yoga practice. The answer is its several potential benefits.
In this article, we’ll share the holistic health benefits of yoga. Learn how it will help you achieve a healthy body and inner peace.
Yoga Practice: A Holistic Approach to Health
Yoga involves performing a combination of posture, breathing, and meditation. It helps control the mind and body for attaining liberty. Spiritually, it calms the mind, widens consciousness, and achieves enlightenment.
But did you know that yoga is a holistic approach to health?
It was commonly used as a complementary health practice at 9.5% in 2012 and 14.3% in 2017. 4 It was, in fact, the number one conventional medicine employed in 2017, along with meditation and chiropractic services. In recent years, it has become an alternative aid to Western Medicine for health and wellness.
However, people have several other health reasons for trying yoga. Good Body cites the top reasons for starting yoga:
- For improving flexibility (61%)
- For relieving stress (56%)
- For general fitness (49%)
- For improving overall health (49%)
- For physical fitness (44%)2
As a yoga practitioner, I’ve found that performing various poses and breathing techniques make a significant difference in overall well-being. Not only does it make you physically fit and active, but yoga makes you psychologically and emotionally well.
Yoga also helps you feel a sense of balance and achieve inner peace. Spiritually, it helps you connect with your inner self and the world around you.
Achieving a healthy body
John Gardner, the co-founder and CEO of Kickoff, said that they include yoga in their training programs for their clients. He said that it primarily requires physical execution and mentioned some known poses such as:
- Mountain pose
- Bridge pose
- Child’s pose
- Downward-facing dog
“These stretches and positions look simple and easy. However, they are very hard to execute and sustain. If anything, they help improve your physical health. That’s the wonderful benefit of yoga,” Gardner said.
Let’s look at some of yoga’s physical health benefits:
1. Makes you physically active
A sedentary lifestyle is a big no-no as it can negatively impact your health and well-being.5 Engage in physical activities, whether making your bed first thing in the morning or walking home.
Some individuals perform strength training, while others do cardiovascular exercises. Your best course of action? Yoga! It involves posing and stretching, which can be physically challenging. They can make you physically active.
2. Boosts flexibility and balance
Flexibility and balance are vital in accomplishing daily activities and preventing injuries. The more physically flexible and well-balanced you are, the better you can perform.
Yoga’s most obvious benefit is how it can improve your flexibility.6 Doing challenging poses helps you become more flexible. On top of this is how it can help you achieve balance.
3. Improves posture
There is nothing more appealing than having good posture. Not only does it make you attractive, but it also boosts your confidence.
Those who try yoga often discover the popular benefit of improved posture.7 It will not only make you look good in public. It will also prevent physical issues, as poor posture can lead to neck, back, and joint problems.
4. Builds muscle strength
While strong muscles look appealing to the eyes, they are best for physical health. It’s best to build your muscles without compromising flexibility.
What’s good about yoga is how it helps build your muscles and makes you flexible. It can even prevent body pain like neck pain, back pain, and arthritis.8
5. Increases energy levels
It’s crucial to boost your energy level to be more productive. How? Having enough energy allows you to perform your day-to-day activities.
As with other physical exercises, home yoga helps you sweat profusely. Performing poses and stretches might look easy. But you’ll be surprised at how it will make you sweat. Ultimately, yoga helps increase your energy and vitality.9
6. Aids in the detox process
Detoxification is an essential body process. It eliminates toxic substances accumulated over time through food consumption, air pollution, radiation, and even body stress.
Master yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar introduced the squeeze and soak theory.10 It highlights yoga for body detoxification. The truth is that yoga aids in the detoxification process. It activates the natural detox systems like the liver, digestive organs, and kidneys to filter toxins and eliminate waste products.
7. Promotes proper digestion
Did you know that stress can trigger some digestive problems? Stress can make you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and ulcers.
The best course of action? Aside from proper eating, home yoga helps promote proper digestion.11 As with other physical exercises, yoga helps reduce your stress. If you stress less, your digestive system suffers less.
8. Helps lose weight
There is nothing more fulfilling than losing and maintaining weight. Several physical exercises will help with your weight-control journey.
Yoga can be an effective and practical way to lose weight. The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center found that yoga helps people lose weight.12 Respondents have not only dropped some pounds, but also have a changed mindset and a healthier lifestyle.
Finding inner peace with yoga
Tim White, the founder of Milepro, believes in living a healthy lifestyle for overall health and well-being. Aside from the travel they specialize in, he recommends practicing home yoga to foster mental wellness.
White said, “There’s more to yoga than meets the eye. You’ll be amazed at how it can help calm your mind, attain a sense of balance, and find inner peace. That’s the beauty of this mind-and-body exercise.”
Let’s look at some of yoga’s mental health benefits:
9. Makes you happier
Ensuring a state of happiness is vital for overall health and well-being. That’s why health professionals encourage patients to stay physically active. Physical activities help release 4 hormones responsible for happiness: serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin.
As with other workout exercises, yoga can make you feel happier.13 It helps increase your serotonin level (happy hormones) and decrease your cortisol level (stress hormones). Also, yoga is a mind-and-body exercise that focuses on calming the mind and finding inner peace.
10. Helps you relax
Life can be stressful. Think of the hustle and bustle of your daily grind. As such, every individual must find time to relax and unwind.
Practicing home yoga can be your best course of action. This mind-and-body exercise focuses on relaxing, breathing, and meditating. More than 85% of yogis and yoginis feel yoga reduces stress.14
11. Addresses depression & anxiety
Constant and unmanaged stress levels can lead to mental health issues. Unfortunately, many individuals suffer from depression and anxiety, especially during this pandemic. It’s crucial to address them now, more than ever.
What’s good about home yoga is how it can help address symptoms of depression and anxiety. The British Journal of Sports Medicine researched yoga’s effect on mental health. They found out that respondents had a significant reduction in their depressive symptoms.15
12. Helps you focus & concentrate
We now live in a world where there are many distractions. In the workplace, employees must focus and concentrate on their jobs.
To address this problem, try practicing yoga. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in the workplace improve productivity and promote the well-being of employees. About 86% of yogis and yoginis say yoga helps them achieve mental clarity.16
Try yoga to improve mental and physical health
Yoga is a mind-and-body exercise that can be practiced under the guidance of an instructor or at home on your own. Not only does it improve your physical health, but it also fosters your mental wellness. It’s a holistic approach for boosting overall health and well-being.
Consider the health benefits of yoga discussed above, whether physical or mental. Give it a try and see how it helps improve your health. If you’ve long been practicing yoga, optimize your techniques and take them to the next level!
As a bonus, yoga is a spiritual approach to achieving peace, balance, and happiness.
About Brett Larkin
Brett Larkin is the founder of the Uplifted Yoga website and award-winning YouTube channel, a successful entrepreneur and a digital pioneer in training online yoga teachers.
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