There are many facts about yoga that many people do not know.
For example it’s estimated that some 36 million Americans practice yoga. That’s a pretty significant number. What’s even larger is the amount they spend annually on yoga products—27 billion USD! And that’s just in one country. (That number continues to grow!)
Don’t get me wrong. I love that yoga has and continues to be on the rise.
I also honestly believe the world would be a much happier place if everyone incorporated a bit more downward dog into their daily lives. But with the rise of yoga’s popularity in the West, there comes with it an increase in misconceptions.
What yoga is really all about.
Maybe you’re exploring yoga for the first time or you’ve read the Sutras cover-to-cover.
Take a moment to make sure you’re up to date on these mind-blowing facts about yoga. You might be surprised at what you learn!
7 Mind-Blowing Facts About Yoga Everyone Should Know
1. Yoga isn’t just a fitness fad.
Crossfit. Zumba. Pilates. Is yoga just another fitness fad passing through?
Well, yes and no.
Yoga’s global popularity is unprecedented, with yoga retreats and studios on the rise around the world. Whether it’s a sweaty hot yoga session or a relaxing, restorative class, everyday people are donning their Lululemon and dropping in to see what all the fuss is about.
So maybe yoga has become a bit of a craze, but the ancient tradition of yoga is more than a fitness trend alone.
The tradition of yoga dates back nearly 5,000 years to the time of pre-Vedic Indian traditions.
We then find Yoga to be the central theme of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture appearing around 500 B.C.
Further development of yoga emerged roughly around 100 B.C. At this time, Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras in an attempt to define and standardize classical yoga.
It was the esteemed Swami Vivekananda, an Indian Hindu Monk and mystic, who is credited for bringing yoga to the Western world in the late 1800s. His message, that all beings are an embodiment of the divine self, remains a focal element of the practice today.
As yoga continues to grow and become more mainstream, its uses will continue to change and evolve. What’s clear is that those who experience the powerful mind-body-spirit transformation that yoga brings, will continue to be forever touched by it.
2.SAVASANA (CORPSE POSE) IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT YOGA POSES OF ALL TIME. IT’S ALSO ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING.
Savasana is that signature pose at the conclusion of every yoga practice. And if you’re anything like me, then you’re guilty of slipping out of class to carry on with your busy life the moment the teacher instructs you into it. I always knew Savasana was important, but it’s only recently I learned why.
Savasana is a pose of ultimate relaxation, which is why it is so difficult for many of us to release into the pose. While in Savasana, your mind and body calm. You allow your body to de-stress and return to its natural state as a human being and not a human doing. Your body also cements the effects of your yoga practice, processing and remembering the information it needs.
The healing benefits of yoga are not only about relaxation and focus, they are also cross-cutting.
Today, yoga is known to positively affect the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of medical patients. The practice of yoga is being incorporated into many health centers as a complementary treatment for illnesses.
3. When in doubt, come back to one-to-one breathing.
Learning to breath is one of the most powerful things you can do. Not only does breathing supply us with our life force, oxygen is also responsible for eliminating waste and toxins, bringing oxygen to the blood and the brain, rejuvenating our organs, and reducing stress, anxiety, and disease…and that’s just the start!
It’s hardly any wonder the ancient yogis devoted serious time to understanding and practicing the relationship between the inhale and exhale.
There are numerous Pranayama (breathing) exercises, some of which are very simple, others that should only be practiced under the guidance of a teacher. However, if you only learn one breathing exercise, make it one-to-one breathing.
How to practice 1:1 Breathing?
The idea is that for however many counts you inhale, you exhale for the same duration. So if you inhale for five counts, you would then exhale for five counts, and so on and so forth. Not only is it calming and grounding, it also improves the quality and duration of your breath.
One study found that the emphasis of deep breathing in Iyengar yoga helped individuals suffering from depression and anxiety. So, next time you find yourself about to lose your cool, break out the one-to-one breathing first and then see how you feel.
4. No one cares how awesome you look in your postures.
Believe it or not, no one really cares what you look like in your Revolved Half Moon pose. Maybe you’re super-flexy, capable of bending in ways that the mind previously couldn’t have imagined possible.
Or maybe you can’t even touch your toes. It really doesn’t matter. Yoga is for every body, and because of that, the way you move in and out of the different postures will vary according to you and how you are feeling on a given day.
Undoubtedly, yoga improves flexibility and posture and helps to prevent injuries by strengthening core muscles used for support and weight-bearing.
When I tell people I’m a yoga instructor, the number one thing I hear is: “I’m not flexible enough for yoga.” When it comes down to it, yoga is about the flexibility of the mind, not the body. We all start from somewhere. Wherever you’re starting from today is exactly where you’re supposed to be.
5. And speaking of postures, yoga is more than just moving from one pose to the next.
Yoga poses are powerful, poignant, and beautiful, especially when expressed thoughtfully and with proper alignment.
However, yoga is not about asanas (postures) alone. Yoga’s ultimate contribution to our wellbeing is the unification of body and mind into a state of flexible and activated focus.
Some yoga practices like Ashtanga Yoga or Bikram Yoga (also known as Hot Yoga) originated as a practice of discipline, breathing, and the repetition of poses intended to purify the system.
There are over 100 different types of yoga in practice today. So, it’s certainly possible to find the type and approach that’s right for you.
Classic practices like hatha yoga, raja yoga, and karma yoga appeal to many yoga practitioners. They integrate the spiritual and emotional elements people are looking for.
6. Yoga makes you younger.
[x_pullquote type=”right”]Yoga is the fountain of youth – you’re only as young as your spine is flexible.[/x_pullquote]It’s a quote that’s been floating around yogi Pinterest boards and quote walls for a while. But there is a verifiable essence of truth to it.
Not only does yoga keep your spine young and flexible, it also directly correlates to numerous other health benefits.
For example, yoga:
- protects your bones and spine
- increases blood circulation
- boosts immunity
- drops blood pressure
- maintains your nervous system
- improves lung function
- prevents disease
- connects you to your inner spirit and more!
Yoga might not actually make you younger. (Sorry folks!)
BUT according to the United States National Library of Medicine, a combination of yoga and meditation does help slow the aging process. Yoga has been shown to also slow the onset of several different diseases.
7. How you act on the mat is how you act in real life.
It’s true—your yoga mat is a dress rehearsal for real life. How we act while on the mat is a mirror for how we will handle both negative and positive experiences in our lives.
When we learn to stay present on the mat, we learn to stay present in the office. When we choose to open our hearts in Camel Pose, we begin to show a touch more love and kindness to those in need.
When we sit with our discomfort on the mat, slowly, we begin to sit with the discomfort in our lives—and then we can understand why it’s there in the first place.
And our Ego? When we begin to let that go, that’s when powerful transformation can really happen.
It’s clear that people are feeling a need to connect more deeply with life’s experiences, and in a way that practicing yoga makes possible. The numbers alone speak for themselves. In 2016, nearly 53,000 yoga teachers registered with the Yoga Alliance and over 36.7 million adults were actively taking regular yoga classes.
Don’t roll up your yoga practice with your mat; instead, take it out into the world and live your yoga every day!
Do you have anything to add to our list of mind-blowing facts about yoga? Keep the discussion going in the comments below!