Yoga may seem like a temporary novelty in the U.S. because of the sharp rise in popularity in recent years, but it’s not just a passing fad. Just a few years ago, the number of people who practiced yoga in the U.S. was around 20 million. That number has doubled, but Yoga has grown far beyond being a novelty. It’s an effective exercise that loosens and strengthens muscles all over your body, helps distribute the flow of energy, and can even help relieve stress. It tones your body while keeping it limber. It also helps prevent injury by retaining the elasticity of your muscles and especially by strengthening the muscles around the spine.
It might be obvious that yoga is most popular on our coasts and in large cities, but even the number of practitioners in Middle America is rising. As the country grows more health-conscious, yoga has become the exercise of choice for millions, for various reasons. Some practice it because they see it as an easy way to stay in shape, but if you want to get the most out of it, you shouldn’t take the easy way out. Go for the more challenging stretches and balancing techniques, or take a class. Classes are no walk in the park, but it’s not that expensive and the benefits are outstanding.
The reasons Americans practice yoga are varied and split fairly evenly among those who practice it. The most popular reason is flexibility, followed closely by stress relief and overall health / physical fitness. The reason it’s so effective on stress is that it is a form of meditation and was originally created for that reason. It wasn’t until later that it became a common exercise for the body as well.
The popularity of yoga doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon because a larger and larger number of practitioners are under the age of 18. Contributing to this number are schools that add yoga to their curriculum and an overall awareness in the younger generation about the importance of fitness. Our population is more enlightened by the access to information that explains the many advantages. The more people who practice yoga, the more they will pass on its benefits to their children, family, and friends. The more popular yoga gets, the healthier our population will be and that will have lasting positive effects on the mind and body of every person that practices it.
Photo credit: Andrea Obzerova – Fotolia