Today is International Yoga Day - an annual event celebrated since 2015 to spread awareness about the benefits of yoga.

In conjunction with the celebration, here are 10 awesome facts about yoga that you should know about:

1) Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years

Yoga dates back to more than 5,000 years, to the time of pre-vedic Indian traditions. It is a central theme of Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture that appeared around 500 B.C. Around 100 B.C, the sage Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras in an attempt to define and standardize classical yoga.

2) Yoga comprises 'eight limbs'

No, these are not tentacles like that of an octopus. The eight limbs are guidelines on how to live life. They are - Yamas (abstinences), Niyama (observances), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing), Pratyahara (withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Ghana (meditation), Samadhi (absorption)

3) Yoga was introduced in the West in the 1890s

None other than Swami Vivekananda is said to have visited the United States in 1893 and addressed the World's Parliament in Chicago, spreading the message of Hinduism and Yoga. He reportedly continued to write books and conduct tours, preaching about yoga and health throughout the US, in subsequent years.

4) Yoga is a registered Olympic sport

The USA Yoga Federation's registration of yoga as a competitive sport was approved by the Olympic Committee in 2016. Competitors are required to display five mandatory poses, namely the standing head-to-knee pose, standing bow-pulling pose, bow pose, rabbit pose, and stretching pose, before a panel of judges for a total of three minutes, where they will be judged on their flexibility, balance, timing and breathing.

5) Yoga has tons of health benefits

Yoga can boost the practitioner's self esteem, help improve sleep, alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and even help with weight loss. In addition, it also helps build one's confidence, reduce skin breakouts and delay ageing.

6) Yoga is for all

Yoga is not only for the young, fit and healthy. It can be practised by kids and senior citizens alike. In fact, it is found to help seniors with arthritis-related problems! Also, one does not have to be flexible to start doing yoga, as practitioners end up building up their flexibility as they continue practising it. In fact, certain "safe yoga poses" such as hatha yoga and restorative yoga can even be practised by pregnant women!

7) Yoga is NOT a religion

Contrary to common belief, due to its prominent links to Hinduism and Buddhism, yoga is not a religion. A huge range of people across various religions and cultures worldwide practise it. In fact, in the US alone, 36 million people are said to practice yoga regularly! Worlwide, there are reportedly 300 million practitioners.

8) Lord Shiva is the Supreme Lord of Yoga

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is considered as Adi Guru (First Guru) or Adi Yogi (First Yogi), who is said to have imparted the knowledge of yoga to the Saptha Rishes (seven saints).

9) Yoga improves productivity at work

A 2012 Journal of Occupational Health Psychology study found that employees who practise yoga feel more productive by an average of 69 minutes per week, due to better managed stress levels.

10) The yoga industry is HUGE

The yoga industry is said to be worth more than US$84 billion worldwide. Americans alone spend an estimated US$16 billion annually on yoga classes and equipment.

So there you, some quick facts about yoga that you should know about. Happy International Yoga Day everyone!

Photos source: Pexels, Indian Express