Chances are, even if you don’t practice it, you know someone who does. Yoga is practiced around the world by people of all walks of life. Spiritual gurus use it as a way to meditate and find tranquility, but beyond that, it’s practiced by all different kinds of people for all different kinds of reasons. Here are a few different groups who can benefit significantly from yoga:
People with Anxiety
Did you know that one out of five Americans suffers from some form of anxiety? Someone who suffers from anxiety struggles with almost constant worry, sometimes even panic. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective first line of defense, and some even supplement that with medication, but the problem with relying on medication is that missing a dose causes the anxiety to return with a vengeance. It also comes with some unwanted side affects.
Yoga, on the other hand, offers nothing but positive side effects, and by calming the nervous system (which is on high alert, in fight or flight mode for anxious people) it tackles anxiety at the root level. With its emphasis on deep breathing and the focus that’s required to perform the sometimes challenging moves, Yoga teaches anxiety sufferers to calm their minds and relax so that they can truly be in the moment.
People with Depression
Like anxiety, depression is a debilitating disease that prevents people from doing many of the things they used to love. Yoga helps depression sufferers clear the clutter from their minds, so that they find more energy to do the things they love. Through proper posture, rhythmic breathing, and affirmation, yoga can boost depressed moods, allowing people with depression to experience happiness and contentment again.
People Overcoming Addiction
While the 12 steps program is a great start to overcoming addiction, for the most part, it’s just that- a start. Yoga takes recovering from addiction to a deeper level than what addicts get out of a program. The practice of yoga develops discipline, focus, awareness, and strength, four things that help addicts continue on their path to recovery. After building a community of supporters and going through the detoxification program of holistic alcohol rehab, yoga is a great supplement, kind of like a “recovery 2.0” as yoga teacher and addiction recovery expert Tommy Rosen describes it.
People Who Experienced Trauma
Trauma can be quite, well, traumatic and take a long time to recover from. Through meditation and yoga, trauma survivors can slowly begin to heal and recover from the events of their past. Especially for victims of abuse, yoga teaches self-care and compassion. It teaches those who practice it to be kinder and gentler to themselves, something they actually have to relearn after previous years of being treated badly.
In yoga, there is a breathing practice called pranayama that allows practitioners to envision themselves in a positive light, drawing on who they have the potential to become outside of the trauma they experienced.
People Who are Incarcerated
The International Association of Yoga Therapists published a study suggesting that yoga boosts mood and elevates well-being among prisoners, even younger ones who are doing time in juvenile detention centers. Researchers at Oxford University discovered that following a ten-week session of yoga, the prisoners experienced a reduction in stress, a boost in mood, and they were better able to control their behavior than those prisoners who were not practicing yoga. Not only is yoga an effective form of intervention for prisoners, but it’s also extremely cost effective compared to other methods.
Yoga is great for everyone, no matter who you are. Athletes can benefit from more intense, fast-paced forms of yoga that focus on building muscular strength and endurance. Older populations benefit from prevention and delay of osteoporosis, relief from menopausal symptoms, improved flexibility and range of motion, which prevents catastrophic falls. Teenagers can benefit from the discipline and focus that yoga instills, and frantic moms can benefit from the tranquility and serenity they experience while doing yoga. Yoga moms like Laura Kasperzak have proven yoga can be a good bonding experience with your child.
Whoever you are and whatever you do, it’s a safe bet that yoga is right for you. Give it a try today, and you just might become a yogi for life.
Image courtesy of @LauraSykora.