What are Yoga Addicts?

What are Yoga Addicts?

yoga teacher certificationBy Kimaya Singh

One of my friends feels that there is nothing funny about addiction. I agree, but not all addictions are negative. Some people love their jobs, play guitar, get up early for a runner’s high, or practice pranayama for states of euphoria. So please don’t think all addictions are bad. Unfortunately, we live at a time when many people are consumed by an addiction to something negative. Sometimes addictions can cause great harm to one person or an entire family.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an addict as someone who devotes or surrenders himself habitually or obsessively to a substance or practice. The definition hits close to home for some of us with regards to our Yoga training sessions. I, for one, certainly feel a sense of withdrawal when I am unable to practice as often as I’d like. Am I addicted?

Fortunately, addiction to Yogic techniques proves more beneficial than detrimental. Western medical research about the true health benefits of Yoga has been scarce, as many studies have depended on self-reported benefits, or were not held to scientific standards, such as using double-blind or randomized samples. A few famous studies, however, have met the gold standard for empirical support. Dr. Dean Ornish’s study, beginning in 1990, tracked two groups of heart disease patients over the course of 5 years.

The first group was prescribed medication alone, while the second took medication and in addition, incorporated exercise, meditation, relaxation, group support, and diet changes, based on a Yoga focused lifestyle. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the peer-reviewed results in 1997, showing that the medication only group had experienced more than twice as many heart attacks or deaths as the other, Yogic lifestyle group.

Another study, which was done at the University of Sydney assessed the effects of Yogic practice on boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) ages 8-13. The boys did Satyananda Yoga weekly, together with postures, breathing exercises and relaxation recommended by a Yoga institute. After 5 months, the boys practicing yoga were less angry, moody, impulsive, and restless than their peers in the control group.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published an article in 2010 showing that studies that compare the effects of Yoga with standard exercise seem to indicate that Yoga may be as effective, or even better, than exercise in improving a person’s health. This seemed to be the case for both healthy people and sick individuals. A variety of health markers were measured to reach these results, including blood glucose (which may indicate diabetes) and blood lipids (a precursor to high cholesterol.)

In light of these positive results, side effects of Yogic addiction may include being calm, collected, and living a long time. I can live with this outcome, and I think my fellow addicts can too.

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