Let’s face it, the Aussies are not known for their sensitive side. To the rest of the world, they conjure up a rowdy and tough persona — somewhere along the lines of “CrocodileDundee” or Mel Gibson in “Mad Max.” But the truth is that a lot of Australians are actually practicing yoga as a form of exercise. Why are they doing this? What’s the health secret about yoga that they know and you don’t?
For that, we have to turn to recent health news in the form of a clinical trial published by scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne. While yoga is gaining respect as an alternative remedy to more risky types of exercise, little is known about the practice of yoga in Australia whether as a physical activity, a form of therapy, a spiritual path, or a lifestyle.
The research team therefore set out to investigate. A national survey of yoga practitioners was conducted utilizing a Web-based questionnaire. A total of 3,892 respondents completed the survey. Here are some of the interesting facts the researchers found when they analyzed their data:
— The typical respondent was a 41-year-old, educated, employed, health-conscious adult.
— Asana (postures) and vinyasa (sequences of postures) represented 61% of the time spent practicing, with the other 39% devoted to the gentler practices of relaxation, pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, and instruction.
— Respondents commonly started practicing yoga for health and fitness, but often continued practicing for stress management.
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— One in five respondents practiced yoga for a specific health or medical reason, which was seen to be improved by yoga practice.
— Healthy lifestyle choices were seen to be more prevalent in respondents with more years of practice.
— Yoga-related injuries occurring under supervision in the previous 12 months were low at 2.4% of respondents.
To summarize, here are six key reasons yoga is helping Australians to be healthier: by assisting in the management of specific health issues and medical conditions and by exerting a so-called “healthy lifestyle effect” that includes vegetarianism, non-smoking, reduced alcohol consumption, increased exercise, and reduced stress.