Today, Yoga has grown far beyond a marginal form of exercise, comfortably achieving mainstream status with around half a million people regularly practising in the UK. To give that some context and scale, that’s roughly the population of Manchester!
It is now also a core part of many elite athletes’ training regime including the likes of Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray and Gareth Bale to name but a few, as well as premier football clubs, the England cricket team, England Women’s football and Team GB Taekwondo.
And alongside this ‘exponential’ growth in popularity is the ever expanding body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of regular yoga practice. Research has found it to have positive effects on a number of health conditions as well as reducing the risk of others, including;
Perhaps then, with such a myriad of benefits, it is little wonder that programs such as Yoga Therapy are now recognised in the US as a clinically viable treatment. And although not yet widely prescribed by the NHS here in the UK, it would seem it’s just be a matter of time before it is; with the head of the NHS, Simon Stevens calling for NHS employers to introduce activities such as Yoga, to help healthcare workers deal with their ever increasing work demands and to boost their health and wellbeing. A Manchester GP, himself a Yoga practitioner, is now dispensing prescriptions for free sessions to combat all manner of ills and a Yoga treatment for bad backs, developed in a collaboration between the British Wheel of Yoga and York University is now being introduced into healthcare centres across the UK.
Such an abundance of benefits and evidence of its effectiveness should be enough to get anyone on the mat! But, should there still be any doubt or concern, then it cannot be stressed enough - no matter what your body type, fitness levels or temperament, Yoga has something to offer everyone.
You are never too young, or too old to start; strength, fitness, balance and flexibility are not pre-requisites, they are result of regular practice.
With more classes, styles and evidence of its benefits than ever before, the excuses are getting less and less. So what are you waiting for? We look forward to seeing you on a mat soon.
Manchester City Council: Public Intelligence: Manchester’s population, ethnic groups and ward map [online] at: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/200088/statistics_and_census/438/public_intelligence/3
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Enfield, S., (2016) Why More Western Doctors Are Now Prescribing Yoga Therapy [online] in Yoga Journal, 3rd February 2016, at: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/western-doctors-prescribing-yoga-therapy/
Pugh, R., (2016) Should Yoga be part of NHS care? [online] in The Guardian, 26th April 2016, at: https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2016/apr/26/should-yoga-be-part-of-nhs-care
The Independent (2009) Yoga Inc. The phenomenal popularity of Yoga [online] Saturday 15th August 2009, at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/yoga-inc-the-phenomenal-popularity-of-yoga-1772832.html
Thompson, W.R., (2015) Worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2016 [online] in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal, Vol.19, Iss.6, p. 9-18, November-December 2015, at: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2015/11000/WORLDWIDE_SURVEY_OF_FITNESS_TRENDS_FOR_2016__10th.5.aspx
Harvard Health Publications (2015) Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat [online] at the Harvard Medical School Website, February 2015, at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat
British Wheel of Yoga (2013) FACT…Yoga can improve common health problems [online] 26th February, 2013, at: http://www.bwy.org.uk/yoga-can-improve-common-health-problems/
British Wheel of Yoga (2016) British Wheel of Yoga Plays Large Role in High Profile International Research [online] 27th May, at: http://www.bwy.org.uk/pdf/1464340164BWY%20Research%20Page.pdf
Bates, C., (2012) Prescribing yoga on the NHS could slash annual £1.37billion back pain bill, say experts [online] in the Daily Mail, 17th August 2012 at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2189761/Prescribing-yoga-NHS-slash-annual-1-37billion-pain-say-experts.html