“Why yoga?” This is a question I’ve heard many times since I started my yoga practice a few years ago. Strength, endurance, and flexibility can be developed through numerous activities, such as Pilates, swimming, or weight lifting, so listing those qualities doesn’t often satisfy the curious. There are many reasons why yoga is one of my favorite activities, and it’s a list that changes with the different events of my life. For now, here are some of the top reasons why yoga is such a big part of my life.
Yoga is healthy. There are countless studies showing the benefits of yoga for all sorts of physical ailments. From fibromyalgia to colds and the flu, yoga is great for the body. Pain relief, increased strength, and a stronger immune system are all side effects of a regular yoga practice. Researches may not be sure why yoga has some of the effects it does, but yogis are happy to enjoy the benefits. Many people are also inspired by their yoga practice to improve their diets, to get more sleep, and many other healthy lifestyle choices.
Yoga improves the mind as well as the body. Stress, depression, and heartache are just some of the challenges that can affect our lives. When our mental and emotional state are trouble, every aspect of our lives is affected. While yoga is not a magic bullet, and can’t cure everything, it can be a very helpful tool for learning to deal with whatever life throws at us. Through yoga practice, we strengthen our neutral minds. When the neutral mind is strong and healthy, all of our experiences become blessings, and the ebb and flow of life doesn’t phase us. That is a powerful reason why yoga is loved by so many people.
Yoga is fun. Like many forms of physical activity, there is a sense of fun and accomplishment when you master a new, challenging asana. But with yoga, you don’t have to wait until you reach an advanced level to experience enjoyment. Kundalini yoga has kriyas like “Popcorn Set,” where you get to lie down and pop your body like popcorn. Shiva Rea teaches Yoga Trance Dance which is accessible and enjoyable for people of all levels. Also, yoga has festivals! What’s not love about coming together with hundreds of yogis at an event like Sat Nam Fest!
Yoga is interesting. For some people, the idea of getting on a treadmill or standing in a gym lifting weights is appealing. For others, it is quite boring. With yoga, you can be assured that each practice will be different. For Kundalini yogis, there are literally thousands of kriyas and meditations to choose from, so there is a lifetime of variety. For yogis who practice fixed series, such as Ashtanga or Bikram yoga, noticing the ways in which the body is different from day to day, practice to practice, is interesting and illuminating. And yoga is made up of so many different elements, like pranayama and mudra, so there is also something different to explore.
Yoga meets you where you are. It’s not easy for a person with arthritis to take up basketball, or someone with a back injury to start kickboxing. Pre-existing injuries or conditions, and even simply age, can prevent many people from doing physical activity. But yoga is for everyone, at any stage of life. With a range of styles and different emphases, it’s simply a matter of finding the right class for each person. So whether you (or someone you know) are a teenager, a mother-to-be, have an old injury, or have several grandchildren, yoga is for you.
There are countless reasons why yoga is loved by so many. What do you say when people as you “why yoga?”