9 Reasons Why 15 Million Americans Practice Yoga Each Year
By David Boston
Charlize Theron. Robert Downey, Jr. Jennifer Aniston. Adam Levine. Joe Johnson. Alessandra Ambrosio. What do all of these celebrities have in common (besides being A-list actors, musicians, athletes, and supermodels)? They all swear by yoga. And their physical appearance and mental aptitude enthusiastically scream the benefits associated with practicing yoga.
But are you aware of the benefits? Do you know why these celebrities (and countless others) swear by it? Or why over 15 million Americans (both male and female) practice yoga each year?
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not just a bunch of stretching and breathing exercises. Nor is it too easy or too “girly.” It’s a legitimate workout – one that intensely works out both the body and mind. It’s a kickass discipline that boasts seemingly endless benefits. And below, you’ll find just a few of the most powerful ones, broken down into two categories: physical and mental.
9 Powerful Benefits of Practicing Yoga
Physical Benefits of Yoga
Increased Strength. Several variations of yoga and their respective poses require you to support your bodyweight in very unique angles and positions. And this support must sometimes last for several minutes. This necessary support naturally strengthens your muscle groups, along with your core.
Fat Loss. Yoga is very efficient at burning calories. One session of Vinyasa yoga can burn up to 594 calories, while a basic beginner yoga session can burn anywhere from 100 – 400 calories.
Muscle Tone. A by-product of increasing your strength and burning fat, toned muscles give you that attractive physical appearance we all secretly want. Add to that the long, smooth muscle definition and you have the ingredients for a body to drool over.
Increased Flexibility. As you get older, your body naturally starts to tighten up. If nothing’s done about it, it will eventually lead to stiffness, pain, and immobility. Yoga is the perfect discipline for increasing your flexibility, thus preventing any negative conditions and promoting a greater range of motion.
Improved Balance. The improved balance gained from practicing yoga poses has been proven to help heal stroke victims and prevent the elderly from falling. It has also been proven to improve the performance of balance-dependent activities, including gymnastics, surfing, and even motocross.
Mental Benefits of Yoga
Reduces Anxiety and Depression. There are several ways that yoga has been linked to reduced anxiety levels and depression prevention. The exercises themselves help reduce stress levels in the body, and the socialization and meditation aspects of yoga have effectively aided in lessening the impact of depression.
Improves Concentration. For thousands of years yoga has been practiced to quiet the inner self, slowing down a person’s thoughts while decreasing their mental clutter. Just one session can allow a person to be more focused and less distracted throughout the day.
Improves Self-Discipline. The very act of sticking to a regular yoga routine naturally increases self-discipline. However, the process of practicing each pose, stance, and breathing exercise also requires an immense amount of self-discipline and mental stamina.
Improves Mind-Body Connection. Yoga involves synchronizing your breathing with your movements. As such, it fosters a union between the mental (focusing on breathing in unison) and the physical (focusing on moving in unison).