Yoga – the four letter word that can help you get friends faster than a hot Instagram picture in most western countries. Originating from the land of the Himalayas, Yoga is a sacred part of the Hindu religion. In this article, we will try to explain its journey from the east to the west.
According to scriptures, Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction gave yoga to the human world. Patanjali’s yoga sutra is considered as the authoritarian text on the subject. In the 21st century, this text has become the guiding light for the followers of yoga. It describes the ashtanga (or eight limbs) version of yoga.
The eight components of yoga are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyan and samdhi.
Swami Vivekananda played an important role in the resurgence of yoga in the 19th century. His visit to the Parliament of the World’s Religions and demonstrations led to a lot of curiosity toward the Hindu practices in the western world.
After this exposure, several Americans and Europeans travelled through the vast tracts of India searching for yoga gurus and started their sadhanas or practices. Later, they went back to teach in different parts of the world and invited their gurus (teachers) to come and teach in their home countries.
Teachers like BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois attained worldwide fame and followers owing to their rigorous yoga training methods. Even to date, many yoga students from around the world travel to Mysore to learn yoga in the most traditional way as taught by the Jois family.
While these Indian teachers stuck to the traditional form of practices, many others started their own brand of yoga by introducing a differentiator. Today, there is a lot of option when choosing a yoga style. Apart from the traditional schools, you also have styles like hot yoga, acro-yoga, and even beer yoga.
In most of these cases, the practices are far removed from the spirit and substance of the yoga sutras. The re-branded versions have already seen a decline in its followers as they realize the limitations of the repackaged ideas.
There is a new surge to follow the traditional path.
Unfortunately, the new age gurus in India are trying hard to take away the yoga from its Hindu roots in order to woo the non-Hindu followers. This is one reason almost everyone in yoga thinks it is to do only with asanas and pranayamas.
In the traditional approach, you start at Yama and slowly make your way through each step until the Samadhi state. But not everyone can reach the next stage.
The best way to learn Hatha yoga is to find the nearest traditional yoga teacher and start. When taught with awareness, yoga can be a fantastic tool for mind and body. It keeps both healthy and rejuvenated and has proven to be very effective in recovering from injuries and in relieving stress. When practised correctly, yoga is the best form of exercise and preventive measure against all diseases.