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Comparative Analysis of Western and Asian Yoga Practice

Updated on December 27, 2015

Ancient Practice of Yoga

The philosophy of yoga that people know today is largely based on the texts and teachings of Hinduism in India. Therefore, there is a lot of spirituality involved, especially in Asian practice of yoga. It typically begins with a union of the internal and eternal self, leading up to self realization. Aside from that, yoga philosophy also believes in the existence of a Divine Power that co-exists within the universe and reality.

What is Yoga?

Hatha Yoga Video Tutorial - 1. Introduction

Introduction to Yoga

Several practitioners of yoga today are enticed to perform this without proper knowledge of the basic philosophy of this practice. They are simply drawn in since most of those who've tried yoga rave about the benefits they have acquired from it, such as improved health, increased physical strength, a more relaxed feeling, among others.

This was also the reason why yoga became increasingly popular. Its spread throughout the various parts of the world from its origin of the Indus Valley Civilization was gradual but had easily gained a strong grip amongst those who practiced it regularly. In fact, many have incorporated as part of the regular fitness regimen for a holistic approach at health and physical improvement.

The ancient teachings of yoga point to the ignorance of man as the main perpetrator of problems, whether concerning their health, mental, or spiritual life. Therefore, it always begin with an enlightenment and a distinction between the good or bad (through the first two stages of yama and niyama). A specific branch of yoga known as Sahaja Yoga emphasizes this union with a Divine Power that enables one to realize their potential and allowing balance between the different aspects of the body.

Impact of Yoga Today

Although it was thousands of years ago when yoga was first innovated and observed, its concepts and philosophies remain evident today. Its biggest contribution would have to be that emphasis on the marriage of both mind and body. It has been associated today with a positive effect on one's life, which is beneficial for all age groups.

Yoga practice today offers three major forces of action, emotion, and intelligence, with each one having their own benefits. Focus of action in yoga enables you to lead a healthy lifestyle and execute yoga postures for improvement of your physical health and well-being. In emotion, it allows you to deal with everyday stress using yoga techniques and create emotional balance. In intelligence, it caters to brain purification that allows you to sharpen brain capacity for improved logical and psychic ability.

Yoga in the East

In some parts of Asia, yoga is looked at as a religion. Although it might not apply to all, there is a tremendous amount of spirituality involved with the Asian philosophy of yoga. It is quite understandable given that it has close ties with the Hindu teachings and philosophies that look at Samadhi as its ultimate goal.

Samadhi in the eastern practice of yoga is the deepest possible mental state that allows you to block out any unwanted or irrelevant thoughts to the practice. That mind control ability is crucial in yoga, not only in the east but for observance of yoga practice all throughout the world.

Hatha Yoga 1 -Easy Ground Work - Full 43 Minute Class

Its Penetration in the West

While yoga has existed for thousands of years, it wasn't until during the 1800s when it penetrated the western part of the world. Credit that to the famous yogic disciples who traveled into the west to expand the roots of yoga. This enabled them to embrace the beneficial promises of yoga.

With several health and psychological problems plaguing most westerners, yoga provided a new approach at addressing what is mostly considered medical problems. With rising medical costs in recent years, it has given them a safer and more affordable choice while also creating awareness about the need to establish a healthy lifestyle as advocated by the yogic philosophy.

Hatha Yoga Class

Yoga in the West and its Development

Since its initial introduction in the west, yoga has saw major evolution. Today, western people associate yoga as a fitness tool. With an emphasis at attaining the proper muscular built and strength, the execution of complex yoga postures and exercises enable them to achieve their desired figure and shape.

Several competing athletes have also benefited from using yoga as part of their fitness regimen. The focus on both mind and body help them perform at their optimum capacity. This changing needs of western yoga practitioners have also resulted in the inevitable evolution of certain yoga exercise techniques. Therefore, physical benefits range from improve muscle strength, power, increased energy, and long-lasting endurance. On top of the physical endurance, the mental aspect of yoga is probably where most western practitioners have benefited the most. The ability to control the mind enables them to push beyond their limits and excel beyond their standards of performance.

Hatha Yoga's Popularity in the West

Although there are several techniques of yoga available, Hatha Yoga has been one of the more famous choices in the west. The western philosophy of yoga is a strong indicator of why this might be the case. Here are just some of the known benefits that Hatha Yoga can provide:

  • Hatha Yoga is suitable as a form of exercise for any age group. It can help you attain the desired shape and maintain that if practiced regularly.
  • You can attain a coordination with all muscles and joints in your body, thus improving strength and balance.
  • Its exercises are easy enough for children and teenagers to learn and master.
  • For older people, benefits range from increased flexibility, better posture, improved spinal strength, and prevention of any form of back pain.

East Meets West in Power Yoga

Power yoga is one yoga technique that both east and west find beneficial. Hence, it is widely accepted throughout various parts of the world for its health and mental benefits.

There are two basic aspects involved in power yoga. First is the execution of yoga poses that will enable you to engage from a gentle to a vigorous workout routine that is simple enough for beginners to master. Next, is the ability to hold that pose for a given period of time, which enables one to increase muscle flexibility and develop endurance.

Yoga Books on Amazon

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