“If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain. If you’re not into yoga; if you have half a brain.”
Since taking up a yoga practice almost a decade ago, I have heard this song a few times and it always makes me smile. It came out in 1979 at a time when alternative health and spiritual practices were regarded very differently than they are now, just over four decades ago. Back then, things like yoga, meditation, and breathwork were not regarded as effective healing tools, but rather were reserved for a subgroup of philosophical, spirituality seekers. At best, they could supplement traditional Western medicine but on their own, did little to improve physical or mental health.
Now, holistic medicine is everywhere: Energy healing, meditation centers, acupuncture, tapping, plant medicine, the list goes on. It’s no longer uncommon to see these practices incorporated into medical treatment, nor is it uncommon to see people seeking out these methods of treatment prior to trying medications, surgeries, or other more invasive procedures. 45 years after Rupert Holmes released this song, the switch has flipped on how alternative methods of healing are regarded. So why this resurgence of utilization and respect for these more traditional healing modalities?
In today’s post, we’ll discuss the top three reasons yoga’s popularity has made a comeback over recent years. We’ll look at why it was disregarded in the past as an effective healing tool, and how its’ undeniable benefits have changed yoga’s reputation in the world of health and fitness. Once regarded as a simple hobby has made its way into the medical field, schools, the workplace, and so many other areas asana was never found before. Read on to learn why it’s so great!
#1: Yoga is Physically and Mentally Beneficial
The main reason yoga has become so popular is a simple one: it works. The physical and mental/emotional benefits are endless; read more about them in this post! Yoga removes energy blockages, boosts metabolism, improves mood, relieves anxiety, and so much more. The postures and flow from one pose to another accesses all the muscle groups in the body, and simultaneously strengthens and stretches them. Yoga is a spiritual practice, but asana (the physical postures) has been scientifically proven to improve physical health.
Before I started practicing yoga, I was in relatively good shape. I did cardio and stretching regularly, and paid attention to what I ate. I felt pretty good. Once I introduced asana into my routine, however, I felt better than I ever knew possible. My body felt stronger and more fluid, my digestion improved, and my balance, coordination, and flexibility reached levels that hadn’t been touched with previous forms of exercise. As weird as it may sound, yoga makes my body feel powerful, and I am more in tune with the signals my body sends me in the form of physical sensations.
Aside from the physical benefits, yoga has a profound effect on the mind. In asana, the focus is on connecting movement with breath, a constant reminder to bring our minds back into the present moment. Much anxiety is relieved simply when we distract ourselves from our default thinking patterns, shifting our focus from past or futuristic worries to the movement of our body and the quality of our breath. The more time we spend in this mindful state during asana, the easier it is to access it in daily life. As we practice being in that calm space, we start to crave it more and more, and begin to think of our practice as a respite from the chaos of daily life.
It’s important to note that life-changing benefits come only with consistent practice. Someone who takes a single class and expects all their problems to disappear will be disappointed. But the great thing about yoga is that it is anything but boring, and the feeling you get after that one class will very likely keep you coming back for more. Yoga teaches us to slow down and to let go of things we can’t control; it gives us a safe space to just be, and that tends to feel amazing. For me, it was that feeling that brought me back to the mat, class after class, until it became an integral part of my life.
#2: Yoga is Accessible to Everyone
Here’s the thing: Running is not for me. Neither is weightlifting, or team sports of any kind. For the most part, I loathe exercising. If it weren’t for yoga, my fitness routine would be limited to counting down the minutes on my elliptical machine and a few minutes of obligatory stretching.
Without my having to do anything other than the poses, yoga helps me access muscles groups I wouldn’t otherwise, and the movements from one posture to the next keep it from being monotonous. Asana to me often feels like dancing, and dancing is much more fun than sweating on a treadmill, yet it is still a full body workout.
When you take up a yoga practice, you don’t have to be an expert (read about other common yoga myths here!). You don’t even have to be athletic. There are classes for all levels of experience, from beginner to teacher training. I appreciated that I was able to jump right into a class with no experience whatsoever; I started with classes that were advertised as ‘beginner level’ and branched out from there as I became more comfortable and knowledgeable about what styles were best for my body. Even for classes where experience might have been helpful, the instructors offered modifications that were easier to access.
What makes yoga such a great healing modality is that it is accessible to everyone. There is no “right way” to practice, therefore everyone is welcome on the mat regardless of experience, flexibility, or spiritual beliefs. Yoga is also inclusive of people with physical limitations or disabilities. Chair Yoga, Somatic Movement, and Yin Yoga are all examples of specific types of asana that cater to people with limited mobility. With these innovative classes, people with physical limitations can reap the benefits of yoga in a way that is comfortable for their body.
So there you have it, folks. Yoga is popular because it works and because everyone can do it! If you have been considering rolling out a mat, consider joining us at Inspiring Actions! Our studios in Hudson and River Falls Wisconsin offer a class for every step of your journey, and our dedicated instructors are committed to supporting and encouraging you along the way. Interested in exposing your kiddos to yoga? Inspiring Actions Kid’s Yoga is the perfect way to introduce your 4 – 9-year-old to this ancient practice, and while they’re learning tools they can use for the rest of their lives, you can enjoy a free Karma Yoga class in the next studio!
Hope you see you there; namaste!