[Repost] Does Yoga Make People Happier?

I want to share this article from BookYogaRetreats.com which is a perfect read for a Monday, I think. My resolution for more self-care this year has been kind of flagging, so this is also a reminder for myself. Enjoy!


Since the beginning of times, human kind has been driven by one simple, yet complex motivation: to be happy. But, what does happiness mean? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. Nonetheless, we know that true happiness goes beyond one or two laughs every now and then. It’s a more sustainable state of satisfaction and gratefulness in our lives. It’s waking up every morning knowing there’s a meaning to starting a new day.

What Brings Us Happiness?                     

happy girl

And what exactly makes us feel that way? Well, that’s when the broad concept of happiness gets even more complicated. Even after thousands of studies, researchers keep trying to find the secret of happiness. And it will probably be really difficult to ever come up with a perfectly detailed guideline, since happiness is mostly a subjective feeling that is influenced by many factors that are constantly changing.

In the past, maybe you would feel radiant after hunting that big mammoth to feed your family, or seeing the first sprout of the seed you planted. Nowadays, we can get all the food we need at a supermarket, so we have to be more creative with the purpose that will give sense to our lives and make us feel happy.

However, a Harvard Study on Happiness in 2015, revealed some interesting findings about the generalities that fulfill the lives of most people. After surveying the class of 1980, they came up with three simple advices that no matter the time period or location, anyone can follow to be happier:

  • Choose to be happy with whatever you do.
  • Strengthen your closest relationships.
  • Take care of yourself physically, financially and emotionally.

It sounds easier than it really is, don’t you think? Most of us have experienced discontent with what we do at one point; our busy lives make it hard to maintain a close relationship with all the people we love; and to take care of ourselves we have to do great efforts. Which leads us to the main point of this article: could yoga help us to follow these three suggestions from the Harvard study?

 

Yoga Makes People Happy

happy buddha

At BookYogaRetreats.com we decided to test the theory that yoga practice has positive effects on people’s happiness. We conducted a survey on over 650 people who had done yoga at least once to try to understand the impact that it has in their daily lives.

As it turns out, 88.4% of the people, agree that at the very least, it has represented a slight boost in their level of happiness. While 59% are strongly convinced that yoga has considerably helped them to feel better and happier. And when we feel happy, everything around us changes too, as we can tell by the 61.5% of the respondents who have no doubt that yoga has totally transformed their lives.

And the best thing is that the more advanced yogis are in their practice, the happier they claim to be. 51% of the people with an advanced level, rated their happiness to 5 on a scale of 1 to 5. And 37% rated their happiness as 4. Which gives us 88% of really happy yogis who have been doing it for a long time.

 

Why Does Yoga Increase Happiness?

happy yoga girl

If you’re already a committed yoga practitioner, you have already felt its benefits. But if you’re still to try it, you might be wondering why this happens. There is one relevant finding on the survey that explains some of it: yogis from all levels, who practice more than once a month, claim that their main motivation to do it is to help heal an injury, to relax, to deepen spirituality and to improve physical health & fitness. This means that once people try yoga for the first time, they notice that yoga is more than a regular fitness practice and see many other advantages in it.

Because of how complete the practice is, it is easier for people to think of yoga as an activity that increases happiness. But to get a better understanding, let’s think about the three factors that the Harvard Study mentions and compare them with the benefits of yoga:

 

  • Choose to be happy with whatever you do.

Admittedly, the results of the survey could be influenced by the fact that the respondents most possibly like to do yoga if they have already tried it. Therefore, immersing in a practice that they already enjoy doing, will for sure make them happier. Nevertheless, yoga also teaches to be present and enjoy the moment; to be here and now. And when yogis take this philosophy to their daily lives, it becomes easier to enjoy any task, no matter how hard it may be.

yoga pink

 

  • Strengthen your closest relationships.

Is there any closer relationship than the one you have with yourself? Yoga teaches acceptance towards ourselves, with no judgment and unconditional love to our bodies and mind. Once we’re comfortable under our skin, it becomes easier to develop close relationships with others. In addition, a yoga class is always a good place to socialize and build up new friendships.

hug yoga

Image credit: Flickr Montse PB

 

  • Take care of yourself.

The benefits that yoga brings to the body are abundant. In the end, it is also a physical, demanding practice that tones the muscles, increases flexibility and improves the circulatory and digestive systems. That, per se, makes you feel good automatically. Add the spiritual and relaxing part that releases stress and it truly is an activity that helps to take care of yourself. Your financial side might not be too happy with the cost of yoga classes, but the good news is that you can eventually become a yoga teacher and start making money out of it.

smily yogini

As you can see, yoga encompasses the three aspects of happiness to some extent. It is clearer now why yogis tend to feel happy thanks to their practice. And on top of that, studies affirm that we should value love above all else to be happy. The most common meaning of Namaste is “the divine light in me honors the divine light in you”; is there a bigger expression of love than this?


Featured photo and article originally published on BookYogaRetreats.com.

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