A study conducted by Yoga Journal in 2012 reveals the steady growth of yoga emerging throughout the United States and the greater world. The results showed increased growth in yoga even since their last study in 2008. Since its first mention and practice in the years BCE, yoga has exponentially grown and evolved amongst us. Based in the Hindu philosophy and scripture, yoga has developed into a lifestyle and therapeutic practice amongst many in the United States. As Bill Harper, the publisher of Yoga Journal, explains, “Yoga is no longer simply a singular pursuit but a lifestyle choice and an established part of our health and cultural landscape.” The study revelead that, even since 2008, spending on yoga instruction, apparel, and equipment has increased by 46% for yogis and their households. Not surprisingly, the study also notes that yoga growth and participation has been seen across all age groups – 2008 Study statistics: (40.6% 18-34yo; 41% 35-54; 18.4% 55yo+). This may be attributed to the fact that yoga, whether viewed as a lifestyle or therapeutic practice, incorporates a holistic approach to the discipline of both physical and mental aspects. As Kaitlin Quistgaard, Editor in Chief of the Yoga Journal, suggests, the use of yoga as a medical therapy “represents the next great yoga wave.”
The use of yoga in this medical sense can be extremely beneficial to us in all stages and aspects of life. Part of the reason that the practice holds the potential for such benefits is due to the fact that we simply don’t move around like we used to. We are too tied down in our chairs, staring at computers and crunching numbers. Our exposure to anything but minimalistic physical activity is close to nil. By offering a mindful, holistic approach to the yoga discipline, we are offered the opportunity to both escape the unnatural setting of our daily lives and perform necessary physical activities to release our bodies’ energies and blood flow. Most recently, the practice of yoga has been utilized by professional athletes in need of alternative methods of stretching. Amanda Comak of The Washington Times wrote an article in March 2012 discussing the recent growth of yoga amongst the Washington Nationals’ baseball squad. Second baseman Danny Espinosa, for example, has begun utilizing yoga to “increase his flexibility and rid himself of some of the tightness that seemed to plague him during the season.” While yoga undoubtedly has physical benefits, the original practice and the one employed by many today also has spiritual and mental benefits as well.
In the book “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga,” Deepak Chopra and David Simon work together to expose the reader to the essence of yoga and its core seven laws. While the totality of the book is useful and informative regarding yoga law and science, it is the division of body and mind which appears most applicable to our modern-day dilemma of unnatural living. While the authors note that yoga certainly can “increase flexibility, strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and enhance your circulation,” they go on to note that, “the true purpose of yoga is to discover that aspect of your being that can never be lost.” While the authors note that our “causal body” (the area of spirit, thoughts, emotions, etc.) and “physical body” are indisputably different from one another, they are nevertheless “in constant and dynamic” exchange with each other. This connection between the body and mind is what gives rise to both the popularity and seemingly applicable approach to yoga. It’s the integration of each of our body’s layers which affords us the opportunity to “remain centered in the midst of turbulence”.
It should seem evident why the practice of yoga continues to grow so consistently in a society so isolated from nature. By removing ourselves from our natural environments and intuitive freedoms, we essentially separate our “causal” and “physical” bodies, creating a disruption in our needed center of life. To better remain centered, in focus, and connected to ourselves, we must connect to the world around us. The practice of yoga, whether directly or indirectly, allows for us to make these connections and offers an attainable focus in life. As we all know, connection feels better.
Post by David Gelfand
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“The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga” – Deepak Chopra, MD; David Simon, MD
“Yoga in America” Market Study – Yoga Journal
“It’s not a stretch to say Yoga gaining popularity with Nationals” – Amanda Comak (The Washignton Times)