Why Everyone Should Do Yoga

It’s hard to believe that, at one point in my career, people thought I shouldn’t do a yoga video. The resistance at the time was understandable – the practice was new to many people, and may have seemed like a passing fad. But I had a feeling Americans were ready to reap the endless benefits of yoga that had been enjoyed in other parts of the world for centuries.

I hate to say, “I told you so.” But in 2001, only 4 million Americans were practicing yoga. Last year that number skyrocketed to 20 million! Needless to say, this “fad” is here to stay. So let’s take a closer look…

What’s it all about? In the 15th century, Yogi Swatmarama developed Hatha Yoga in India as a means of purifying the body though alignment, balance, strength and flexibility. And while it sometimes weaves in Hindi and Buddhist ideas, yoga is a philosophy, not a religion, and can be practiced by anyone, regardless of your spiritual background.

What are the benefits? Yoga will improve your balance, strength, coordination, flexibility, cardiovascular health and physical confidence. It’s a must for anyone suffering from aches, pains or too much tension. In a review study of 10 randomized clinical trials, 9 out of 10 found that yoga provided them with pain relief.

Why not just stretch? While flexibility is a major component of yoga, it’s about much more than just stretching and physical postures. The word “yoga” means “union,” as in the union of mind and body. That’s what makes it so special – unlike other forms of exercise; yoga isn’t just about the physical. It takes things a step further by focusing on the mind/body connection.

Where do I start? With all the styles and variations available to modern-day yogis, it can be a little overwhelming. “Hatha” is an umbrella term for most modern styles, and is sometimes used as a label for more gentle versions of the practice. “Ashtanga” (sometimes called “Vinyasa” or “Power Yoga”) is more focused on physical strength. “Bikram” uses hot, sauna-like temperatures for more sweat while you stretch; and “Iyengar” is focused more on posture and alignment.

Just beginning? No problem, my Yoga Beginner Essentials kit includes a premium yoga mat (you choose the color) and two of my favorite DVDs: Yoga Sculpt and Peel Off the Pounds Pilates – which give you all the instruction you need to become a Yoga Guru. Start Yoga Today!