Having always been athletic and into sports, while watching people participate in yoga the first thought that came to mind was ‘that is not exercise, they are merely standing around in odd positions’.
I could never see or understand the physical benefits of such easy movements. That was, until I actually took part. Yoga is hard! Do not let anyone tell you any different. If one is to make the effort and go through a yoga routine, be prepared.
Even though the positions, one is put in, looks simple when your arms and legs begin shaking under the strain of a downward facing dog stance, you realize yoga is definitely not easy. Sweat bursts forth from you brow and before you know it, you are breathing heavily as if you have just run a marathon. How can this be? Understanding it is mind boggling. However, these are the experiences one goes through when taking on the challenge of yoga.
There are many different types of yoga and not one of them is simple. Which is okay especially as a workout routine. More than that it helps with controlling the body and mind. And expands the consciousness to open up to the universe. As it goes back many generations (some say as far back as 500BC) the benefits of yoga are well documented. It is advantageous for reducing stress, promoting relaxation, increasing general health and building stamina. (If you can keep at it long enough). For these reasons it is worth giving it a try. The practise is not a cure-all but can be used (in moderation) to relieve many chronic ailments.
Yoga has become more popular, in the west, only over the last century (and the later part of that) as there were perceived religious connections which, quite frankly, do not matter. Unless one is open to exploring them, then by all means, go that route.
As a means of building flexibility, yoga is an excellent way to move and stretch muscles you did not even know you possessed. If you are brave enough to give it a go, remember you have been warned. It is strenuous!