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Why Yoga Has Become So Popular

Updated on August 30, 2017
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Yoga and Celebrities

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) doing yoga.
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) doing yoga. | Source
Natalie Portman with yoga mat.
Natalie Portman with yoga mat. | Source
Jennifer Aniston doing yoga.
Jennifer Aniston doing yoga. | Source
Reese Witherspoon with yoga mat.
Reese Witherspoon with yoga mat. | Source

The cover of this book has a quote by Dr. Oz. "Read this to find out why we teach our patients YOGA."

Women doing yoga is a global phenomenon. Yogawoman.

Yogawoman film or movie

Yoga is Popular

I have been doing yoga since age 12. I checked other articles similar to this one to see what they had to say. This was written November 12, 2013.

The main reason that yoga has become so popular is because it makes people feel good. Why have illegal drugs become so popular?

Is it because they are cheap, increase flexibility, reduce stress, improve self-esteem, helps balance and coordination, cause better circulation, cause more mental clarity and they help you function better in life? No!

Illegal drugs have become very popular, even though they are expensive and you can end up in prison using them, because they make people feel good. But drugs and yoga work in almost opposite ways.

Illegal drugs force an effect on the body quickly and the body fights the effect of them. So over time it takes more of the drug to get the same effect. Also they have a sling shot effect. This means that in the long run, you become the opposite of what the drug does. So if you take a sleeping pill, it becomes harder and harder to get to sleep.

Now with yoga you do not get everything immediately like with drugs. It takes effort and time and in the beginning it may be more subtle than what you are used to. But the more you do it, the stronger the effect becomes.

A study has shown that the more flexible that someone is, the more flexible their arteries are. Most people in the United States die from cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and strokes. Strokes cause many people to be disabled.

The Science Daily had an article called A Simple Way For Older Adults To Assess Arterial Stiffness: Reach For The Toes (October 7, 2009). It said:

A study in the American Journal of Physiology has found that, among people 40 years old and older, performance on the sit-and-reach test could be used to assess the flexibility of the arteries. Because arterial stiffness often precedes cardiovascular disease, the results suggest that this simple test could become a quick measure of an individual’s risk for early mortality from heart attack or stroke.

It is not known why arterial flexibility would be related to the flexibility of the body in middle age and older people. But the authors say that one possibility is that stretching exercises may set into motion physiological reactions that slow down age-related arterial stiffening.

Arteries should be elastic

The researchers studied 526 healthy, non-smoking adults, 20 to 83 years old, with a body mass index of less than 30

With yoga you may need to try different types or different teachers to find one that works well for you. Dr. Oz has his patients do yoga. Just the stress reduction alone can do wonders for health. Sadie Nardini is a popular yoga teacher. She says:

As a teen, I was partially paralyzed for 2 years because of a spinal meningitis-type illness. I couldn’t walk, breathe well or be any kind of normal. I used yoga, over a decade, to strengthen and heal my body, from a puddle on the floor, to the handstanding, strong woman people see today. Yoga helped me beat physical incapacitation, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. I can’t thank it enough, for I would not be the wellness leader I am now without it.

Here is part of the science of how it works. The postures or poses (if they are done right) are designed to stimulate the different endocrine glands that produce hormones. This makes them healthier and produces anti-aging effects. Also you may even feel (I feel them) that these glands produce more of their hormones and that makes you feel better.

The more numb that you are from smoking or medications or whatever, the harder it is to feel the difference from more of these hormones. Many are used to taking something to numb their pain instead of getting more in touch with their body.

Other Benefits

The other benefits of yoga are almost unlimited. Most Americans have trouble sleeping and yoga can help you to get to sleep and sleep better. You can do a search on the internet and find yoga poses that are good for insomnia, anxiety and depression.

As far as yoga helping people to feel better, it is a great exercise to enhance concentration and help you to be more in the present moment. When I started doing yoga and martial arts at age 12, I had no idea that these are possibly the 2 best exercises for helping you to feel the flow experience in Positive Psychology. Here is an article about it called What is Flow? (Understanding the Psychology of Flow).

Positive Psychology was created by psychologists to study what makes people happier. It's director is Dr. Martin Seligman (PhD in psychology). He became president of the American Psychological Association by the widest margin in it's history. In his 2003 book, Authentic Happiness, here is how he describes the flow experience:

When does time stop for you? When do you find yourself doing exactly what you want to be doing, and never wanting it to end? Is it painting, or making love, or playing volleyball, or talking before a group, or rock climbing, or listening sympathetically to someone else's troubles?

At age 12 I also started doing martial arts and that involves stretching. So if stretching is done right, is it supposed to be painful or feel good? It is like neither or both. It is definitely very relaxing. Another analogy could be massage therapy.

I used to get a type of massage therapy called postural integration that is a very strong and deep massage. It would be painful and feel good at the same time. The more painful it was, the better it felt. It is hard to understand unless you experience it for yourself. Massage therapy is incredible for anyone who can afford it.

For more on this see: Many Health Benefits of Massage Therapy. It has information on massage therapy or bodywork from Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic and People who sit all day need massage therapy as much as athletes do. Can you guess the main benefit of massage therapy? It makes you feel very good. It even causes some to fall in love with their massage therapist.

One of my most popular articles is: 23 Celebrities That Do Yoga. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been doing yoga since law school. At that time, Bill Clinton did the yoga classes with her.

There are many health benefits of having sex but can you guess the main reason that people do it? Because it makes them feel good.

Yoga Journal says:

SAN FRANCISCO – The latest "Yoga in America" study, just released by Yoga Journal ( shows that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, compared to 15.8 million from the previous 2008 study, an increase of 29 percent. In addition, practitioners spend $10.3 billion a year on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations, and media. The previous estimate from the 2008 study was $5.7 billion.

Motivation for practice: The top five reasons for starting yoga were: flexibility (78.3 percent), general conditioning (62.2 percent), stress relief (59.6 percent), improve overall health (58.5 percent) and physical fitness (55.1 percent).

According to this webpage, Bikram Choudhury is the most famous yoga guru in the West. This webpage says:

His brand of yoga — Bikram yoga [or Bikram's Hot Yoga] — has 26 copyrighted "hatha yoga" postures that are conducted in 40 degree celcius plus [104 Fahrenheit] conditions.

Known as much for his outspoken views and fleet of Rolls as for his A-list students. He has 700 schools in 200 countries.

It says that his list of students includes Bill Clinton. I believe that his style of yoga is the most physically therapeutic. Yoga is a 5,000 year old practice with an estimated 250 million yoga practitioners globally.

The yoga that people are familiar with that uses the postures is only a part of yoga called hatha yoga. Karma yoga is about doing good deeds like what Mother Theresa was doing. Bhakti yoga is devotional yoga like being devoted to God. Raja means king and raja yoga is meditation.

Yoga Philosophy

So what is the purpose of yoga? Yoga means 'union' and so some say that it is the union of body, mind and spirit. In the Christian religion it is popular to not only praise God, but to put down the human being. But that is not what Jesus taught.

Any doctor or anthropologist can tell you that Jesus was a human. But He is also supposed to be one with God. Yoga means union so maybe it is about a human being becoming one with God. Of course now we are getting way out of the range of exercise or physical fitness.

If Jesus is one with the God then that is why you hear Christians quote the Bible John 8:12 NIV (New International Version) and say:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world."

But you never hear Christians quote Matthew 5:14 NIV. In that Jesus says:

You are the light of the world.

Wikipedia used to say "In all branches of yoga, the ultimate goal is the attainment of an eternal state of perfect consciousness." So maybe Jesus was preaching to people to get them to be like Him. Did Jesus say that He could move a mountain and do anything? If so then I have not see that.

Jesus does say in the Bible, Matthew 17:20 (NIV):

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

I have an article called 29 Celebrities That Do Meditation. It tells about the following people that do Transcendental Meditation (TM). That list includes Dr. Oz, Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood, Sir Paul McCartney, Howard Stern and Jerry Seinfeld. TM was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

In his book Science of Being and Art of Living, he explains that the more one meditates, the less thoughts that he has. He says that with less thoughts, your mental energy is divided less and these thoughts become deeper. This way each thought has more power to manifest in the physical world. That is what his book says. He introduced yoga postures or poses called asanas in 1962. Here is what he says about yoga:

For good health it is necessary for everyone to do something with the body so that it remains flexible and normal.

The advantage of Yoga Asanas over other eastern and western systems of physical posture is that they do not consume energy. They help restore life force, promote health and maintain normal conditions in the body.

Below is a video with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi talking about Christianity when asked about it. He says "I like Christ very much." Dr. Martin Seligman (mentioned above) did TM for over a decade.

Conclusion: Try some yoga now from Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz has had a yoga enthusiast, Steve Ross, design 4 different ten minute yoga sessions on his website for people to try yoga. It is called Yoga in 10: Basic Flow. So click on the link to try it.

Part of how yoga helps people to feel better is that it is an excellent way to help one to be more in the present moment. For more on this see Is the Key to Happiness Being in the Present Moment.

Christianity, Transcendental Meditation and Religion explained by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Controversial Bikram Yoga Guru Likes the Heat

Bikram Yoga Demonstration - Brandy Lyn Winfield


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