It's official! Yoga is the fastest growing fitness or sporting activity in Australia (Roy Morgan Research). If you're already doing it, you'll understand why. And if you're thinking of giving it a go, that should clinch it.
Around 2 million Australians get into yoga on a regular basis, and that's women, men and teenagers. Interestingly, yoga has become more popular with women across all age groups, with those aged 35-49, and 50-plus claiming the top spots.
So what is it about yoga that is SO good?
Well, it ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to health and fitness, that's for sure. In fact, it's an exercise class and a health treatment all in one.
Whilst you might work up a slight sweat - more if you choose Bikram (hot) yoga - this is not the main aim. Unlike intense aerobic or step classes, yoga is more about improving flexibility, muscle strength and bone health.
That fact alone makes it really good for women, and for those with joint and back problems. It's also a fantastic way of regaining strength and mobility after illness or surgery.
Some of the BookWell team, who practise yoga on a regular basis, say it's far superior to a gym workout. They reckon it's safer, more enjoyable and achieves results faster.
A couple of the girls also rate yoga as an excellent way to lose weight. It's because yoga focuses on body AND mind. It teaches you to listen to your body, and to feed it the right kind of nutrition. It makes you want to get fit.
Yoga offers men and women so many physical and mental benefits; in fact it's quite similar to Pilates in that way, which is probably why the two activities go so well together.
But did you know that yoga can actually help prevent joint and cartilage breakdown? As that's something most of us end up battling as we get older, it's a big tick in the box.
Yoga also helps keep osteoporosis at bay, increases blood flow, boosts immunity, lowers blood pressure, and regulates your adrenal glands. That last point is really important.
In a nutshell, your adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to stress. It's that old fight or flight system of ours, left over from our caveman days. A quick burst of cortisol boosts our survival instinct. And that includes food-seeking behaviour.
If your cortisol levels don't drop back down, you're in all sorts of strife, from suffering depression and overeating to memory loss and osteoporosis. If yoga can help prevent all that, count us in!
Yoga is also a bit of a miracle cure for those who stress too much and have trouble sleeping. It maintains your nervous system to keep you calmer and more balanced. In fact, it's one of the best exercises you can do when going through menopause.
Yoga is also great for boosting self-esteem and confidence, making it extremely beneficial for teenage girls. Perhaps you could team up with your daughter and go to yoga classes together.
Not only would you enjoy all those great benefits, but it would also help you bond. By putting you more in touch with your emotions, you will most certainly achieve greater awareness and intuition. Your body will start to transform, and you'll understand why and how.
This is particularly beneficial in helping to control anger issues, as well as other destructive behaviours, such as smoking.
Are there any negatives to practising yoga? We can't think of any. So why not slip into something comfortable, grab a mat and give it a try.