If you spend enough time in a yoga studio, you will hear a lot of bold statements about the physical and emotional benefits of yoga.
“practicing yin will reduce stress and anxiety”
“forward folds are good for introspection”
“we store a lot of emotion in our hips: hip-opening poses can release pent-up emotion”
“backbends will invigorate your body”
“chanting OM will restore peace and calm in your mind”
One teacher recently made the bold statement that breathing and concentrating on healing can cure any ailment. She said that Savasana (the final resting pose in any practice) paired with belief in the power of the breath will heal the body and physical and emotional ailments will not require outside interference (aka doctors and drugs). In summary, she was saying that breathing is more powerful than drugs.
Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. There are certainly anecdotal examples of yoga practitioners healing themselves of cancer and infections through yoga alone, but of course there is no peer-reviewed journal article proving or disproving the medicinal qualities of a regular yoga practice.
But whether or not there is scientific proof of the benefits of yoga, the question remains: do you believe in the power of yoga? Do you believe in the benefits of deep breathing, of linking your breath with movement? Do you believe in taking the time for meditation every day?
If you believe, it’s likely that many of the proclaimed benefits of yoga will avail themselves to you.
To help you believe, I borrowed from Pascal’s Wager:
- It is possible that yoga is physically/emotionally beneficial and it is possible that yoga is not physically/emotionally beneficial.
- If one believes in the benefits of yoga than if they exist one receives physical and emotional reward and if they do not exist one loses little or nothing.
- If one does not believe in the benefits of yoga than if they exist one loses out on physical and emotional reward and if they do not exist than one gains little or nothing.
- It is better to either receive physical/emotional reward or lose little or nothing that it is to either receive no physical/emotional reward or gain little or nothing.
5. It is better to believe in yoga than it is to not believe in yoga.
6. If one course of action is better than another then it is rational to follow that course of action and irrational to follow the other.
7. It is rational to believe in the benefits of yoga and irrational not to believe in the benefits of yoga.
Meet you on the mat?
My point: you may as well practice yoga and believe in its benefits rather than dispute the benefits and refuse to practice yoga. It’s more rational to believe in the benefits than it is to dispute the existence of said benefits.
Oh and if you just want to stretch your hamstrings. You can do that too.