While the average practitioner may say that they feel calmer, stronger or more energized following a session, many public claims make bigger promises, such as happiness, peace, love, knowledge and enlightenment. To cut through the confusion, this section presents evidence and counter-evidence for readers to decide and make up their own minds.
According to Sports Marketing Surveys USA, the five most common reasons why people start practicing yoga (asana) will form the scheme of this section. It will be argued that there is evidence to support yoga (or a particular style of yoga) for improving these attributes. However, it will also be stressed that yoga is not a panacea for all problems.
This section is a tentative sketch, and so has its limitations. Many books and journals are written on the concepts above. As knowledge continues to expand, professionals must work to stay informed.
1. Flexibility (78.3 percent)
Perhaps the most common reason people practice yoga (asana) is to improve their overall flexibility. By “flexibility” most people mean stretching, while others may view it as a general trait. However, flexibility is neither stretching, nor a general trait.
2. General conditioning (62.2 percent)
Conditioning is a term that is used often but seldom understood. Some people may confuse it with drill or repetition. However, although conditioning involves repetition, it is also about the effect of the environment on an athlete’s capabilities.
3. Stress relief (59.6 percent)
Many people believe stress is a major, negative state that everyone experiences in the same way, with the same symptoms. Some believe that it cannot be changed at all or can only be changed by the most popular techniques.
4. Improve overall health (58.5 percent)
Many people define health in the negative sense of not being physically ill. Against this, in 1948 the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a new definition: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
5. Physical fitness (55.1 percent)
Physical fitness is defined as the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigour and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure pursuits or meet unforeseen emergencies. Although fitness appears to be a general trait, it is actually made up of specific, measurable, interrelated components.