As the world is trying to accustom itself with the ‘new normal’ amidst a global pandemic (COVID-19), ensuring health and daily hygiene has become quite significant. Activities like washing hands, using sanitizers and face masks/shields have re-defined our living style. Exercising or doing yoga for health regularly has also become a part of many people’s lives. It is a well-known fact that the yoga benefits are countless. However, let’s ponder over the benefits of doing yoga once more: Top Health Benefits of Yoga The regular practice of yoga comes with a host of health benefits, including mental health. Here’s a quick look at the various health benefits of yoga for the mind, body and soul: \t Yoga health benefits from within \tBlood pressure under control \tImproved blood circulation \tImproved respiratory system \tIncreases cardiovascular endurance \tBoosts immunity multiple times \tBalances metabolism considerably \t Yoga health benefits from outside \tSlows down aging process \tImproves body posture \tIncreases resistance power \tBoosts body’s energy levels \tImproves sleep considerably \tImproves body strength and balance Yoga benefits in maintaining mental health: 1. Stabilizing mood Regular yoga in any form, including Vinyasa yoga helps in stabilizing mood to a great extent because of its great combination of mind and body. 2. Reduces stress considerably Since yoga practice demands substantial concentration, it gradually leads to reduction in stress to a great extent. 3. Control anxiety Life’s rat race and global events including the current pandemic, often leads to panic and anxiety attacks. However, regular practice of yoga helps one bring anxiety under control. 4. Better concentration and memory Researches have shown that doing yoga regularly for as less time as eight weeks resulted in increased concentration levels and improved retention (memory) power noticeably. The health benefits of yoga do not end here. Regular yoga can help in disease prevention and reduce/alleviate symptoms of certain diseases. Some of these include the following: 5. Reduced risk of heart disease Since yoga requires concentration, it has a positive effect on our minds. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and boosts blood circulation within the body. Yoga works in reducing the risk of heart diseases to a considerable extent. 6. Preventive to Type II diabetes According to the studies on the yoga benefits, it has the capability to reduce glucose. It also has the ability in insulin production in the pancreas. Needless to say, with the latter, people suffering from Type II diabetes, can eventually benefit, if they end up practicing yoga on a daily basis. 8. Yoga in The United States Long before, the Indian mystic and religious reformer Swami Vivekananda introduced the Vedanta Philosophy to the Western World (in 1893 at the Parliament of World Religions, Chicago). It pioneered American thinkers to start assimilating Indian thoughts in their works. These included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The former published a poem in 1857 titled ‘Brahma’. The latter also read Hindu scriptures including the Bhagvad Gita and often practiced meditation during his ascetic life. Introduction of yoga in the American mainland In the 20th century, yoga as a form of practice began to be propagated by a few individuals, including Indra Devi. A student of Indian yoga pioneer Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, Devi set up the first Hollywood Yoga studio in 1948 with a focus on training women. Her venture became quite popular adding onto a tinge of glamour. Her clients included celebrities such as Gloria Swanson. Yoga in a post-war America The decades 1960s to 1990s witnessed a splurge in American yoga practitioners. By now, Americans in huge number had already taken to yoga for good health maintenance. However, gears were still shifting with interpolation of new form and techniques, which brought about a ‘movement.’ Among them the most noteworthy was Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. The vinyasa yoga differed from its predecessors in a way that it fruitfully assimilated traditional yogic asanas with modern western exercises. This gave rise to a new form ‘daily exercise’ emphasizing the importance of practicing yoga for a healthy lifestyle. Over time vinyasa yoga as a form of regular workout was popularised by Pattavi Jois and Sharath Jois. Later people like BKS Iyengar and Bikram Chowdhury went on to launch new facets of yoga, which were enthusiastically accepted by many Americans. Choudhury’s students included the likes of Madonna and Lady Gaga. However, he lost out on his popularity after facing lawsuit charges and eventually left US. Yoga in American Culture -2020 Today there are millions of Americans who have embraced yoga as a part of their everyday life. The first International Yoga Day was celebrated in the US in 2014. Coinciding with the summer solstice, International Yoga Day is celebrated on June 21, every year. This year was no exception. Despite the global pandemic and lockdown, which forced millions to stay indoors, the zest was just the same. Keeping in mind the social distancing factor, this year’s focus theme was – ‘Yoga at home; yoga with family.’ The Indian ambassador’s residence in Washington DC was the chosen venue. India’s Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the importance of yoga to the participants through a video message. While we continue to await a ‘new normal’ to dawn and start life afresh yet again in a post-pandemic world, till then let's focus on doing yoga and continue to reap its colossal health benefits.