There's something alluring about stretching your body into controlled positions while relaxing your mind and slowing your breath. Unlike the gym — where you frenetically course through imaginary mountain trails on an exercise bike or climb skyscrapers on an elliptical machine — yoga is relaxed and calm. There are no frenzied movements, just peaceful motions.
The physical, mental and spiritual practice of yoga has been practiced around the world for centuries. In 2014, the United Nations proclaimed June 21 the International Day of Yoga, also known as Yoga Day, to raise awareness of the benefits of the practice.
For example, yoga may ease chronic pain, including arthritis, headaches and lower back pain, according to the American Osteopathic Association. If may also help with insomnia and high blood pressure.
People who practice yoga may experience a range of other benefits from increased flexibility and muscle strength to stress reduction and more energy.
Something for everyone
With all those potential benefits, it's no wonder more people are picking up this ancient practice. In 2017, more than 14% of U.S. adults said they'd practiced yoga in the past year — up from 9.5% in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And with yoga, there's something for everyone. There are dozens of styles and interpretations. You can find what kind of yoga is right for you — from classic styles like Ashtanga and Bikram to trendy goat yoga, for those who enjoy a little four-legged distraction while they practice.
Coincidentally, yoga poses or asanas are often named after animals because of the way the postures mimic these creatures. So whether it's downward dog or the eagle pose, take a deep breath and add some calm to your life.