Yoga might seem like a new trend, but it’s been around for half a millennium. It vastly predates any other exercise routine out there, except maybe for running, but running was for more for survival back then — not fitness. One of the reasons it’s so old is because it’s traditionally tied to spirituality. Yoga doesn’t have to be a religious practice, but the process of meditation and introspection can lead to a divine practice, if not outright worship.
Yoga is also popular because it provides so many benefits. It’s not just a physical exercise — it’s also a mental one. That leads people back to it over and over again, even if they take breaks periodically. Starting yoga as part of a lifelong journey can provide someone with immense benefits. Even if you didn’t start it at a young age, you could still improve your life with yoga.
Learning to regulate emotions and getting adequate physical exercise are two common issues for kids, from a 2-year-old to a 10-year-old. Yoga helps kids in a wide variety of ways and gives them something to look forward to accomplishing. It can be a more natural way for them to start a physical activity they don’t have to compete in, which might be better for a lot of them. Most sports are very competitive, and not all kids are, so this can be an easy compromise.
It can also help increase a child’s focus. The movements require concentration to get right, and the focus on breathing with movements can help them learn what to focus on. Concentration is at least partially a skill, so the more they get to practice it, the better they’ll be at it. Yoga can help them make friends and process stress, both of which are challenging situations for kids. They’ll make friends with other kids who also do yoga, and the deep breathing and concentration yoga requires can help them learn how to calm down.
Adults and Young Adults
Teenagers also tend to have issues dealing with their emotions, and young adults are often going through massive life changes. From your teens to your early 40s, you’ll go through stressor after stressor. As a teenager, your brain goes through a massive renovation process. Then you have job changes, dating, marriage, kids, work, school, buying a house, buying a car and generally learning to be a stable adult. All of that is stressful. Yoga can be a relief when nothing else seems to be going right.
Stress is a massive factor for teens and adults. Yoga can help combat that. In fact, a handful of studies have found some people, in the right situation, can get as much benefit from yoga and meditation as they can from antidepressants and antianxiety medications. Of course, if you are making progress with these medications, it doesn’t mean you should quit them cold turkey and take up yoga instead, but your practice could act as a beneficial supplement. Always talk to your doctor if you feel you are suffering from an undue amount of stress or depression.
In addition to mental health benefits, yoga helps your body. It increases muscle tone, flexibility and posture. The practice can give you a full-body workout, or you can switch it up and give yourself a mental workout instead. As you learn to regulate your breathing, you’ll also learn some basic methods of coping with stress and pain, and teach your body how to relax on command. This ability can make its way into your daily life and help you feel more assertive and in control.
Older people can also get a ton of benefits from yoga. As you age, it can become more challenging to stay active. Older people might be intimidated by the idea of lifting weights, so it makes sense to find a workout that would address their needs more directly. In this case, yoga can do a lot.
One of the main risks older people face is falls from a combination of weakness and lack of balance. Yoga is a great way to combat those issues. Many of the asanas, or poses, yoga uses require varying amounts of balance — from proper posture, to balancing on one foot, to headstands. As a form of exercise, it can also provide the same benefits as a cardio workout. Even just one yoga class can help lower blood pressure, which can be incredibly beneficial for people who are suffering from hypertension.
But yoga doesn’t just provide preventive benefits. It can also impact the health and wellness of older people right now. The stretching and movement can help strengthen bones, which can help make falls less damaging. That is especially important for older women, who are more at risk of osteoporosis. And as with all other age groups, yoga can help relieve stress, create opportunities for bonding with others and help reduce aches and pains. Yoga is so good at pain relief, there are entire series dedicated to releasing tension in various areas, with the neck, back and hips being some of the most common applications.
Yoga has a ton of benefits. Though not everyone does it, everyone should. From toddlers to pregnant women to the elderly, anybody can get something out of consistent yoga practice.