Yoga has been around for thousands of years. In the last decade it has hit the mainstream and grown vastly in popularity. What makes yoga so special? Well it may be that it is a process of wellbeing unlike anything else we do. Why has it grown so much recently? With the improvement of technology, it has hit the mainstream and is available to almost everyone around the world. On top of this, people are more stressed than ever before. Yoga is a great way to relax one’s mind and get to know one’s body even better.
Yoga started in ancient India. It is believed that the beginnings of yoga were developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word “Yoga” was mentioned in old scared texts named the Rig Veda. The Vedas were a collection of texts that contained mantras, songs and rituals to be used by the Vedic priests.
Over time the sacred texts were rejected by yoga masters and yoga began being mixed in with worldly doctrines. Yoga masters embraced the physical body as the means to achieve enlightenment. Later on in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s yoga masters traveled to the West establishing schools and centers in the Western hemisphere.
Yoga is very different today. Gymnastics, body-building and other non-yogic practices transformed it into what it is today.
Yoga increased in popularity largely because it gained traction around the same time photography was invented. Interestingly enough, nowadays post pictures of themselves doing yoga on Instagram.
#yoga is used 45+ million times on Instagram.
Yoga is not an exercise in the sense you do it to get muscles. Sure your muscles will be sore for a couple of days; but really, it’s more of a way to balance yourself, it just so happens to have physical benefits. Some of these benefits include: reducing blood pressure, depression, anxiety, chronic pains, circulation and muscle strength.
Though yoga has deep ancient spiritual beginnings, it is important to note that what yoga has evolved into has nonetheless helped a lot of people around the world. Interesting ways yoga is being done:
With Essential Oils
When the general public thinks about a yoga studio, they can already imagine the incense smell in the air. But now, many yoga instructors will diffuse essential oils during sessions. This can also be referred to as aromatherapy. There are many wonderful benefits to essential oils. Some of these include enhancing mental wellness, support emotional well-being, relieving sore muscles, etc.
3 ways to incorporate essential oils into our yoga routine include diffusing, anointing and purifying.
A diffuser helps you diffuse your essential oils. (Interesting correlation right?) Some of them will have you put a couple of drops into water then diffuse. Other diffusers will have a compartment to attach the essential oil and a straw will suck the oil then diffuse making for a more potent scent. Anointing is when you’ll take a drop or drops of essential oil and place them on strategic parts of your body to enhance the experience. You can also use your essential oils to clean and purify your yoga equipment and clothes.
A general rule of thumb is to read the specific essential oil and it’s uses and benefits.
Believe it or not, athletes in many sports practice yoga. Many professional sports teams have even added yoga instructors to their staff. When you think of someone let’s say LeBron James or even better, New Zealand All Black Rugby Team yoga might not be the first word that would come to mind. But guess what? They’ve publicly admitted to doing yoga to help center them mentally.
“Yoga is about body awareness, body mindfulness,”1 says Kent Kiatch the L.A. Clippers full-time yoga instructor. Kent has worked with Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton [just to throw out a few names.] NBA players are now more open to practicing yoga as it helps them mentally just as working out would help them physically.2
As yoga has a bigger impact in the NBA, the same can be said for the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks practice yoga on a regular basis. For the New York Giants, rookies and players rehabbing injuries yoga is a required work out.
If professional athletes and teams feel yoga helps their mental performance then what stops the rest of us? Many times when the general public thinks about yoga, they imagine a very flexible woman, but there’s more to it than that. Yoga helps professional athletes balance their bodies. It’s therapy for their muscles and helps their minds be at ease.
There are organizations that uses yoga for rehabilitation purposes. Yoga Behind Bars is one of these organizations. They are a group of 100+ volunteers that go to 16 jails and prisons to teach yoga to inmates. They teach men, women and juveniles.
Some of their core values include integrity, love, excellence, social justice and community. They strive to “live these values on and off the mat, behind bars and behind desks.” Their vision is “a world where all communities are healthy and thriving, where people feel safe, connected and valued.”3
This is a healthy way for inmates to release their anger, tension or other negative feelings they may have. In a prison, inmates are enclosed in walls. With yoga, they are invited to take up space.