Paying $12-$18 for a yoga class can be disheartening, especially in the current climate of economic downfall and the call for health care reform in the United States. Budget items like health and recreation are some of the first to go when individuals and families are trying to cut back on spending. Participating in activities like yoga classes can potentially lower the costs of health care for individuals and communities.
Health Care Money Spent in Preventable Disease
Because yoga promotes health in both the body and the mind, it is an investment in an individual’s long term health and wellness. In the year 2000, the estimated cost of health care related to obesity in the United States was almost $117 billion, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Similarly, approximately $116 billion was spent to treat diabetes in the U.S. in 2007. This includes type 2 diabetes, which is often caused by obesity and is a contributor to heart related illness. These numbers amount to the fact that a large percentage of health care costs in the U.S. go to preventable diseases that are frequently caused by a poor diet and lack of exercise.
Looking Beyond the Government to Lower Health Care Costs
This is why the discussion on health care reform is not only affected by the way that medical care is distributed and funded, but also by the ways in which individuals are pro-active in preventing unnecessary health risks. When an individual participates in a yoga class, they are not only receiving the benefits of 60-90 minutes of exercise and increased flexibility. The practice of yoga is directly linked to self-care and self-awareness. By engaging the body and the mind together, individuals are more likely to be aware of the lifestyle choices that affect the way they feel such as diet and physical activity levels.
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The physical exercise incorporated in yoga asanas promotes healthy weight and a healthy heart. Breath-work (pranayama) and stress management taught in yoga classes can aid in lowering blood pressure. Also, the community environment of a yoga class offers social support to people who may not otherwise have the influence of friends and family to encourage health and wellness.
Yoga Benefits for a Healthier Community
All of these benefits contribute to the overall well-being of an individual. By investing in healthy patterns, chronic disease and health risks can be prevented and avoided in later years. By investing in exercise programs like yoga classes, communities can begin to cut costs spent in hospitals and medical centers to treat preventable illness. If medical centers are spending less, individuals can hopefully have more freedom to participate in disease prevention within their own homes and communities.
Many yoga studios are partnering with their communities to provide more affordable classes to the people in their neighborhoods. The economic crisis has inspired studios to offer donation-based and community classes at a discounted rates. This has opened yoga to a new demographic of people who may not otherwise be able to afford yoga classes. It has also fostered communities of individuals who support one another to make healthy lifestyle choices. With this broadened availability, people may find that investing in an activity like yoga can give them an advantage over the rising price of health costs.