While yoga is often associated with mind control and helping keeping us in a peaceful state, we often find ourselves overlooking some of the prime causes why we entertain and commit ourselves to such an activity.

We adopt yoga to exercise our body, and to keep our mind safe and stable.

Yet – there is growing evidence that GP’s are telling patients that yoga is a safe and sensible option to prevent the pressures that befall them. Other GP’s, on the other hand, are dismissing the practice and stating that it may just be a mind over matter technique, and continue to dish out medication. While opinions on both of these may vary, we – as a yoga blog – need to investigate the facts and separate those facts from the fiction.

The hard truth is that, at the time of writing, an estimated 90% of doctors’ visits are stress related – with depression often being diagnosed. That’s a big figure – many times higher than cold or flu visits, which are often reported as time wasting.

While tablets are often dished out in abundance, they don’t always work the miracles the pharmaceutical boards promise. Certainly, in some cases they help in a big way, but there are always risks associated with medication, including addiction.

So, why are some GP’s recommending yoga as an alternative (or to be used in conjunction with medication)?

One of the main reasons is that it is now widely known that exercise helps relieve stress. This applies to any form of exercise, from weight lifting to jogging, from karate to swimming. Our body releases chemicals that help clear the mind and have us concentrate on the here and now, alleviating tension and worry.

Yoga, of course, is an excellent form of exercise that improves the body and the mind, simultaneously. Anybody who has practiced yoga will know of how this works, but the figures speak for themselves. A national survey found that a whopping 85% of people who regularly undertook yoga exercises found that the stress release was phenomenal.

The reasons for this are vast, as yoga has so many exercise types that help improve cognitive functions, from breathing to arts of awareness. A prime point of yoga is also to ensure a non-judgemental attitude towards yourself and others, which, in turn, allows for a peaceful sense of environment, no matter what the situation may entail – from hectic workplaces to crowded bars.

A key principle behind yoga is the ethic that states we are all one – the body and the mind are completely connected, in time and space, at all moments. Those that don’t practise yoga, or a similar form of mental art, may find themselves in more stressful situations – as a problem that persists in the mind, can affect the body, and vice versa. They don’ realise where the stress may hibernate, as they are too wrapped up in either their body or their mind to locate and resolve the issue. With yoga, knowing that the mind and body are one entity enables us to quickly realise a negative has entered, and are able to counteract it immediately.

Everybody wants to live a stress-free lifestyle. However, in today’s world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Many people end up taking medication, as the stress may have even developed into something deeper and darker. Yoga has been recognised as an effective tool to combat stressful situations and to help keep a complete peace of mind.

It doesn’t take long to realise the mental benefits of yoga, and that is the reason it is often being recommended as an age old method to combat stress.