I've heard from several people that they want to start practicing yoga but don't know where to begin. It's no secret the benefits of yoga include but are not limited to a healthy body, calm mind, reduced stress, feeling of connectivity with self and the world, increased awareness and sensitivity, and an overall feeling of awesomeness.
A 2008 study by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau on behalf of Yoga Journal shows that 6.9% of U.S. adults, or 15.8 million people, practice yoga. Of current non-yoga people nearly 8%, or 18.3 million Americans, say they are extremely interested in yoga, triple the number from the 2004 study.
According to the American Heart Association's Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update of 2009, an estimated 80 million American adults (approximately 1 in 3) have one or more types of cardiovascular disease. This includes 73,600,000 folks with high blood pressure, 16,800,000 suffering from coronary heart disease, 5,700,000 with heart failure, 6,500,000 stroke victims, and 650,000 with congenital cardiovascular defects. These numbers surpass the 80 million total because many people have more than one of these conditions. Um, Wow.
25-33% of Americans adults are obese today. Less than 10% of Americans were obese in most states in 1985, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Remember how fit people were in the 80s? Jogging, juicing, and aerobics were hot activities of the time, compared to fast food chain eating, video game playing, and reality TV watching for good times today.
Check out Bryan Walsh's Article in Time. The Journal of the American Medical Association shows some evidence that the childhood obesity "epidemic" may finally be leveling off. Researchers led by Cynthia Ogden of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed survey data gathered between 1999 and 2006, and found that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among American schoolchildren has plateaued at about 32%. After years of rapid increase -- the percentage of 6 to 11-year-olds classified as obese rose from 6.5% in 1980 to 16.3% in 2002 -- that sounds like good news. "We can be cautiously optimistic that it seems to be leveling off in recent years," says Ogden.
32%? That's supposed to be good? Scary! 6.5% of kids were obese in 1980. It's good the rate isn't going up even higher, but 32% is dangerous! I can remember maybe one overweight kid in grade school. Now, in a class of 30 there are probably 10 or more kids that are overweight or obese.
Let's see here. So 1 in 3 adults have some form of heart disease, and 25-33% of Americans adults and 32% of kids are either overweight or obese. Meanwhile 6.9% of US adults practice yoga. Imagine an America where the health care system is dramatically improved simply because people need to go to the doctor less. Preventive health care, aka taking care of your own body, is a sensible way to go! I think we have some work to do. We're a competitive country, probably the most competitive. Let's get competitive on health!
We have the some of the best athletes in the world, but is the average person athletic? What if the Olympic games were a sampling of each country's average? What if people were chosen randomly from each country to compete? Imagine a contestant of America's Biggest Loser up against an average European office worker who bikes to work every day and hikes for fun on the weekends. Come on America, let's do what we do best, compete! Let's be the healthiest, the strongest, the fittest nation in the world!
Now I know yoga isn't the only way to fix these percentages. Exercise and a healthy diet is the road to health. A yoga practice cultivates awareness, confidence, and creates a healthy body and mind. Yoga can get at the roots of issues that cause behaviors leading to obesity, heart disease, and stress. Yoga practice is therapeutic for the body and mind, reminds us of our goodness, energizes our creativity, and inspires. If you are a yoga hater, go for a run then, but please be careful of those knees and don't forget to bring along a friend!
All you Huff-Po readers are knowledgeable, savvy, current and aware. You each could probably give a half hour talk on topics of health, yoga, and current events based on info you pick up on this site and your opinions alone. Now it's your turn to pass it along. If you know someone who needs some help in health pass this video for absolute beginners along. It's your turn to be the teacher.