Yoga is becoming increasing popular. We are being drawn to yoga in increasing numbers. In the United States alone, 36.7 million people are practicing yoga in 2016, up from 20 million in 2012. This means the American yoga population has almost doubled in just four years. In Singapore, running a search for yoga-related businesses on the official Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) website returns over 500 results. But why is yoga becoming so popular?
Benefits of yoga
People are attracted to yoga for many reasons, but continue to practice yoga for only one: it works for them. There are many benefits of practicing yoga: physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and even spiritual.
Similar to any other exercise, yoga asana helps us become stronger and fitter. In addition, a consistent yoga practice builds our awareness, so that we become more conscious of the way we move – how we walk, stand or use our limbs. This leads to improved health, fitness and posture.
A greater physical consciousness also leads to a improved awareness of our breath and our breathing process. During an invigorating practice, students strive to keep their breath even. Our goal is to keep each breath slow and steady, even during an high energy practice. Runners do the same, striving to breathe deeply and evenly while running to ensure a continuous oxygen supply to the body, and efficient breathing reduces both effort and injury.
How is yoga different from other forms of exercise?
If we can get strong by lifting weights at the gym, improve our stamina by running, why should we do yoga? My honest answer is we do yoga because we love it. Not everyone will enjoy yoga – some people find it “too slow” because it is difficult to quiet our monkey mind, especially when holding a lunge for three to five breaths. For some of us, this is the biggest challenge.
Personally, the hardest part of my yoga practice is keeping my to-do list off the mat, and using that one hour of class to focus on my yoga practice, instead of the other things I think I need to be doing. For me, the physical practice creates mental space, and this new-found clarity allows me to reorganise my priorities as I become more centered. I find I am less frazzled after a yoga class, and consequently, able to make decisions with clearer perspective.
I keep going back to yoga because it helps me make better choices. In short, yoga helps me make decisions that are true to myself. For me, that is priceless.