Saturday, September 30

Why Is Yoga So Popular?

Woman points at the ceiling while holding a yoga pose.
Photo by Alex Shaw on Unsplash

Yoga is such a popular activity due to a number of reasons, with the main ones being the health benefits it provides.

However, to truly understand what makes yoga a sensation, we need to dig in deeper and analyze all areas of our lives that yoga seems to touch. Simply put, yoga’s widespread popularity is due to a multitude of factors, and it’s so much more than just a way to stay in shape.

Yoga Stats That Matter

First, let’s see some stats about yoga’s popularity before we dive deep into the practical reasons.

  1. People who practice yoga with breathing and relaxation exercises at least three times per week might have lower blood pressure levels than those who don’t practice. (Reuters)
  2. Back in 2019, the global yoga market size was $37.46 billion and is projected to reach $66.2 billion by 2027. (Allied Market Research)
  3. In the United States, the number of employees in the pilates and yoga studio centers was forecast to be almost 113 thousand in 2022 (approximately three thousand more than the previous year’s total). (Statista)
  4. Breathing-based yoga is said to help treat depression symptoms. (Medical News Today)
  5. A 2017 study illustrated that Hatha yoga could improve the brain’s executive functions, as well as people’s overall mood. (Medical News Today)
  6. Kindergarten-aged children who practiced yoga twice a week in their schools instead of engaging in the standard physical education showed less inattention and hyperactivity. Moreover, they managed to complete tasks much faster than similarly aged children who took part in traditional physical education or didn’t exercise at all. (Jarraya et al., 2019)
  7. According to science, yoga has the power to improve flexibility, reduce inflammation, increase your strength, improve quality of life, boost immunity, improve balance, help with burnout, improve cardiovascular functioning and bone health, and others. (Healthline)
  8. Here are the top three reasons why people practice yoga in the United States:
  • 54% do it to release tension;
  • 52% to get both physically and mentally stronger;
  • and 43% so that they feel happier. (Finances Online) 

Reasons Why Yoga Is So Popular

1) It’s multi-faceted

Yoga is both a science and an art. It unites different layers of our being through its power to affect all aspects of our being — the physical, the spiritual, the mental, and the emotional. That’s what makes it so challenging but, at the same time, rewarding.

Moreover, yoga blends ancient techniques with modern approaches and practices. It helps the body while nourishing the soul, and it frees the mind.

2) It grounds us

Two seated women meditate facing each other.
Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

Yoga helps us experience the power of the present moment. Sometimes it even forces us to do so, especially if we’re in our heads and lost in random worrisome thoughts.

As Donna Farhi put it, “yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better.”

3) It promotes meditation and quietness

A seated woman meditates next to water.
Photo by Le Minh Phuong on Unsplash

People tend to lead hectic lives, and yoga allows them to stop for a second and be put in a meditative state. It enables them to experience peacefulness and stay with their thoughts, breath, and body.

There’s no rushing, no need to “get things done,” and no overthinking.

It’s almost like a sacred retreat; only it’s one that doesn’t require you to visit any sacred sites or special locations, which brings us to the next point.

4) It’s easy to start practicing it

A woman seated on a yoga mat stretches and grabs her ankles.
Photo by Nature Zen on Unsplash

One of the many reasons yoga is so popular is that it’s so easy to start practicing it. All you need is a little space, a yoga mat, water, a towel, and comfortable clothes. Yoga straps can also help if you’re into such tools.

Moreover, it’s not expensive to do yoga. You don’t even have to go somewhere to do it — you can practice it from the comfort of your home, unlike many other activities that require much more planning.

5) Yoga helps us improve our mental focus and concentration

According to what this research suggests, only 20 minutes can be enough to “boost your brain power” and notice the difference.

Allegedly, it seems that individuals who engage in yoga practice can use their mental resources better, process information much more effectively, retain and update information faster, and so on.

The breathing exercises, along with the meditative ones, have the power to calm the mind and body while keeping distracting thoughts far away from people’s focus. At the same time, yoga practitioners are much more capable of focusing on their posture, body, and breath.

In turn, these benefits transcend far beyond regular yoga practice; they help us perform our day-to-day tasks and other mental activities in a much more rapid and effective manner.

6) It helps relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress

Many people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety and deal with a lot of stress find their refuge in yoga activities.

In fact, yoga has been suggested as monotherapy for depression, but it’s been preferred as an adjunctive treatment (meaning in addition to the primary treatment) for both depression and anxiety. And studies have shown that people can experience symptom reduction with just a single 60-minute session on a weekly basis.

In order to reduce stress and anxiety levels within the body, yoga lowers the resting heart rate and a person’s blood pressure, increases pain tolerance levels, and eases one’s breathing. This is significant because one Harvard Mental Health study discovered that people who had more stress in their lives had a lower pain tolerance than those who didn’t.

7) Yoga helps alleviate chronic pain

Research suggests that yoga can help with health conditions such as headaches, back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia, and so on.

Yoga can alleviate chronic pain, reduce inflammation, and help people cope with their pain in a much more grounded way. Many yoga practitioners state that although some of their pain isn’t entirely gone (it’s called chronic for a reason), it’s much easier to manage thanks to their regular yoga practice.

With that said, it’s worth mentioning that yoga may not be suitable for all types of pain or injuries. For instance, if you have a severe injury that prevents you from doing the poses properly, you may do more harm.

Finally, if you feel like your body needs some modified yoga poses due to a specific injury, consider including yoga straps, blankets, yoga blocks, or bolsters in your practice. Not only will it make things easier for you, but it will also be much more entertaining.

8) It provides a healthy distraction from bad habits

People who can’t get rid of bad habits, addictions, and some unhealthy obsessions also find comfort in yoga.

In fact, many recovery and rehab centers offer yoga classes to their patients. This allows patients to develop new healthier habits instead of remaining focused on their previous ones. Occupying one’s mind with new routines allows patients to recover in a much more effective way.

With that said, yoga works complementary to the other types of treatments such patients can get. Its effects are best seen in preventing relapse, reduction in withdrawal symptoms, as well as drug cravings. Also, yoga allows these individuals to deal with their daily triggers in a much more mature and emotionally-balanced manner.

9) Yoga helps people meet like-minded individuals

Women in a yoga class practice in front of a store.
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Ultimately, yoga helps bring people who think alike and share the same value system together. It allows people to discover peers with similar interests, hobbies, opinions, preferences, and approach to life.

Of course, people with different personality traits may also share the same love for yoga, but since yoga also teaches tolerance, individuals will be much more likely to show empathy toward those who may not see eye to eye with them.

Parting Words

All things considered, yoga is popular because of the many emotional, mental, social, and physical benefits it provides.

Overall, it’s hard to turn away from a trend that brings good to people’s lives and has been doing so for many, many years.  In fact, “if the history of yoga teaches us anything, it is that yoga is not only here to stay, but is here to become even more popular.”

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