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Kandalynn Naidl

Ms. Lindsey

Junior Seminar

11/30/18

Persuasive Essay on Yoga practice

It is hard to travel a few miles without seeing a Yoga studio. Everywhere you go more

and more people are wearing colorful Yoga pants, buying various Yoga mats or Yoga videos,

and opening Yoga studios. But Yoga is not just for hippies, young people, or people already in

shape; Yoga is a timeless practice that can be done anywhere, is beneficial for all ages and

abilities, and improves mental health and physical wellness.

Yoga originated in Northern India over 5,000 years ago and continues to be modified,

added to, and combined. All forms of Yoga derive from the six true branches of Yoga (Hatha,

Karma, Mantra, Bakhti, Jana, and Raja). A Yoga class can encompass one or more branches of

Yoga, and most Yoga classes stem from Hatha Yoga, which focuses on the union of the mind,

body, and soul. According to 8 Limbs Yoga, a few basic terms you will hear throughout Yoga

are: ​Asana,​​ which means “seat” in Sanskrit and refers to the postures or poses in Yoga practice;

Sutra, ​which is a Sanskrit word meaning “sacred thread”, a guide to life; ​Ashtanga, ​which​ ​refers

to the 8-limbed paths described by Patanjali in ​The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali​ (“Astha” is the

number eight and “ang” means limb); ​Yama ​(attitudes toward our environment); ​Niyama

(attitudes toward ourselves); ​Pranayama ​(restraint or expansion of the breath); ​Pratyahara

(withdrawal of the senses); ​Dharana ​(concentration); ​Dhyana ​(meditation); and ​Samadhi


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(complete integration). By familiarizing yourself with a few terms you can walk into any Yoga

class anywhere and be more in touch with your body, surroundings, and the practice.

Some people may not go to a Yoga class because they are intimidated and puzzled by the

complex positions or feel that the practice of Yoga is a one size fits all deal. Yoga is beneficial

for all ages and abilities, it can be adjusted for any and all limitations. On this note, it is

important to always practice Yoga safely and to seek guidance from your instructor on how to

best make it work for you. Never perform a new or unfamiliar Asana without asking an

instructor for advice and guidance. Tell your instructor about previous injuries you have had, or

pain you feel and this will structure your practice. After going to a Yoga class you can develop

your own safe personal Yoga practice that is tailored to your bodies needs and abilities. You

don’t have to be flexible to do Yoga. If you can breathe, and have physical mobility, you too can

practice Yoga!

There are numerous studies that demonstrate Yoga’s health benefit potential. For

example according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information and U.S. National

Library of Medicine, “Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote

and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of

addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and

enhance overall well-being and quality of life.” Yoga lowers the resting heart rate, increases

endurance, and improves oxygen intake. Yoga increases blood flow bringing more oxygen to

your cells, and it helps to build muscle mass or maintain muscle strength, which protects from

conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain.


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Evidence shows that stress contributes to the development of heart disease, cancer, and

stroke as well as other chronic conditions and diseases. Yoga is calming and restorative, it

encourages one to relax, slow the breath and focus on the present; shifting the balance from the

sympathetic nervous system and the flight-or-fight response to the parasympathetic rest and

digest. Consistently getting the heart rate into aerobic range lowers the risk of heart attack. While

not all Yoga is aerobic, even Yoga exercises that do not increase heart rate into the aerobic range

can improve cardiovascular functioning. Daily Yoga practice increases serotonin levels leaving

you in a happier state of wellbeing, an optimistic and tranquil state of mind, sense of belonging,

and less irritability. Yoga is a complementary therapy for individuals with depression, anxiety,

stress, and insomnia.

I know I don't like running or jogging, but I love Yoga. After practicing Yoga I feel

refreshed, I have deeper, fuller breathes, I am happier and more energetic, my body feels

balanced, and I sleep fantastic at night after a day with Yoga. According to a Harvard University

study, 80% of visits to the doctor are stress-related health problems. But as few as 3% of doctors

actually talk to their patients about stress. Experimental research was conducted by Dr. James E.

Stahl and his team of Harvard researchers. Study volunteers participated in an 8-week mind-body

relaxation program offered through the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at

Massachusetts General Hospital. The program taught a range of mind-body skills including

meditation, Yoga, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral skills, and positive psychology. The study

volunteers participated in weekly sessions and practiced at home as well. The researchers found

that people in the relaxation program used 43% fewer medical services than they did the

previous year, saving on average $2,360 per person in emergency room visits alone. This means
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that such Yoga and meditation programs could translate into health care savings of anywhere

from $640 to as much as $25,500 per patient each year. Dr. Stahl states, “You don’t need to

enroll in a formal program, or even spend a lot of time practicing meditation and mindfulness

skills — 10 to 15 minutes a day will do. Consistency is the key.”

If you are suffering from any of the stresses of life, like most people these days, try

Yoga! Properly supervised there is no risk, only benefit potential. Yoga is a timeless practice that

can be done anywhere, is beneficial for all ages and abilities, and improves mental health and

physical wellness. By increasing a passion for Yoga, the quality of your life naturally improves,

and you develop many personal benefits by practice. I believe the benefits of Yoga are endless!

Don’t believe me? The proof is in the practice, try it yourself! Start your morning with a basic

10-15 minute sun salutation practice.


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Citations:

“About Yoga.” ​Inside 8 Limbs Yoga​, 8 Limbs Yoga Centers, 2018,

https://8limbsyoga.com/about-yoga/​.

Denninger, John. “Now and Zen: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Brain and Improve

Your Health.” ​Harvard Now and Zen Reading Materials​, Harvard Medical

School, 8 Mar. 2016,

https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Harvard%20Now%20and%20Zen%20Re

ading%20Materials.pdf

Watchwellcast. “What Are the Benefits of Yoga?” ​YouTube​, YouTube, 24 Nov. 2012,

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU3HuPNsyG4​.

Woodyard, Catherine. “Exploring the Therapeutic Effects of Yoga and Its Ability to Increase

Quality of Life.” ​Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports​, U.S. National Library of

Medicine, 2011,​ ​www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/