In the Yoga classes I teach, the majority of students are women. Usually middle-aged with a good to very good income. There are of course exceptions, but the majority falls into this category.

Which is no surprise, since the whole marketing around Yoga targets these groups. If you ask people why they don’t do Yoga, a very common reply is:

I am not flexible enough.

First of all: This is like saying I am too dirty to take a shower. However,  people think you need to be flexible, because we mostly see flexible (and good looking) people doing Yoga at the beach in the media world.

If you practice Yoga (not only asana, but also pranayama and meditation), you know the positive effects it has on you also outside the Yoga mat. So you can understand how helpful it is to bring these tools to less privileged or ill people.

Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, talked about this topic among others at the Yoga conference and gave insights into the measured results of Yoga.

Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. has been fully engaged in basic and clinical research on the effectiveness of yoga and meditation practices in improving physical and psychological health since 2001. He has practiced a yoga lifestyle since 1971 and is a certified instructor in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan.

He is the Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute, Research Director for the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Research Associate at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Sat Bir Khalsa
Sat Bir Khalsa

As a Yogi, you know how Yoga can reduce stress, how it can affect your mood in a positive way.  But to make sure, Yoga finds it way into schools, hospitals and other places, we need research, we need proof!

During the conference he presented lots of studies, showing the positive effects of Yoga. Effects that can help to prevent certain diseases or help coping with the disease.

Of course Yoga can’t cure cancer, but it can help to deal with the illness and also the side effects of the medical treatment.

Yoga can affect our autonomic nervous system, which can be key to changing behavior which leads to diseases. So instead of eating unhealthily due to stress, drinking too much and not being able to sleep at night, Yoga can help you to reduce stress and improve your own habits. This will lead  to a healthier life style and a lesser chance to become sick.

Why not investing into meditation at schools instead of investing into medical treatment for the side effects of obesity?

The research shows already success. In more and more places, you see that Yoga is integrated into healthcare benefits, treatment of diseases, education of people in jobs with high-risk of burn-outs, in schools, etc.

However, our mindset still needs to change. Going to the doctor often means we want a quick and easy solution. Best thing is a pill and we just continue with our bad habits. We don’t see ourselves as being in charge, but the medical provider. And this needs to change. Instead of pills for everything, we need to address the health issues in a holistic way. We need doctors who look at the patient and not only at the symptoms. But we also need patients who are willing to make changes to their life style.

By doing Yoga, these changes mostly happen slowly but easily. You often don’t really notice it anymore. You feel and sleep better, you have less of an urge to make up for stress with sugary food or alcohol.  I usually call this the magic of Yoga. Keep in mind, Yoga comes with one big side effect, we need to be clear about: It can change your life 🙂

Namaste
Mareike