What do you think of when you think of yoga and the people who practice yoga? Skinny shirtless men sitting cross-legged and chanting? People wearing chunky sandals and driving Volkswagen buses? (Are those still even around? Am I really that old?)
While those people participate in the practice, yoga can work for almost anyone. And not just because its clothes are so darned comfy.
Yoga is probably more than 1,000 years old, yet it couldn’t be more trendy. You can buy yoga equipment and clothes at all types of retailers at all kinds of prices. Gyms and yoga studios offer different types of yoga classes, as do community centers and schools. Some business owners even hire yogi (yoga instructors) to teach the practice to their employees.
Why? Are they hopping on the trend bandwagon? Maybe. Maybe some people are interested in yoga because they like the way they look in overpriced yoga pants.
More likely, they are practicing yoga because it makes them feel good. Yoga can help people become more flexible, protect them from injury, improve their muscle tone and strength, strengthen their circulatory and respiratory systems, and so much else. It is physical exercise that can help people lose weight and keep that weight off.
Yoga can also improve the mental conditions of its users. This is why it is also used in holistic treatments for drug and alcohol abuse. Holistic treatments address patients’ bodies, minds, and spirits and tries to balance all three. Yoga uses physical poses, breathing techniques, focusing exercises, and other tactics to try to achieve this balance.
One of the goals of holistic treatment is to reduce or eliminate stress. Reducing stress is important in treating substance abuse, since stress can drive some addicts to abuse drugs or alcohol as ways to cope. The stress-reducing benefits of yoga are one reason companies are turning to yoga to help relieve the anxieties of their employees. Even medical and osteopathic doctors tout this practice that was once considered the epitome of New Age or hippie culture.
So if you roll your eyes when you see people in wide-legged pants toting rolled-up yoga mats, get ready to do some more eye rolling. Yoga is not going anywhere soon. Better yet, consider joining them. You might feel physically and mentally better. Or at least you might get a cool outfit out of it.
BIO: Pam Zuber writes about substance abuse, recovery, life skills, and other topics. You can find her work in print and on the web, including http://www.