The Westernization of Yoga

Article by Jason Hank

Ever Since Yoga migrated from India to the westernized world back in the 1800s is has undergone multiple changes and adaptations. For the most part Yoga is practiced in 5 different manners.

1. It is practiced for physical exercise and the lose weight.2. It is practiced as a type of spot to be mastered3. It is practiced as a kind of therapy that uses specific positions to bring wellness4. It is practiced as an all encompassing lifestyle5. It is practiced on a spiritual level in which enlightenment comes from bringing the mind and body together.

By far the most common of these 5 approaches to Yoga are the first 3 and often times these 3 are combined in traditional Yoga classes. Postural Yoga tends to focus on the different body positions for which the westernized version of Yoga has become famous. Many Yoga practitioners join a Yoga class simply to learn these positions and use them to increase their own flexibility. It is not uncommon for a Yoga class to focus exclusively on these positions. Although mastering the positions is greatly beneficial it does not bring together the body and mind which holds the true healing power of Yoga.

Yoga as a form of physical exercise is by far the most popular way that Westerners practice Yoga. Additionally it is the furthest from Yoga at its purest form. It takes the outer form of Yoga but at its heart it is nothing more then glorified stretching techniques. On the one hand it has helped many Westerners improve their strength, resilience and flexibility; but on the other hand is has brought this stripped version of Yoga into the spotlight and its true form is often left behind. From the beginning of Yoga the Gurus have stressed the importance of keeping ones body healthy, but they have stressed even more the importance of bringing the body and mind together. It is only after the two have been joined together that the body can begin to use the healing power of Yoga for things such as reducing stress or increasing energy.

About the Author

Written by Jason Hank,

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