The ancient art of yoga had been practiced in India for centuries before it began to spread, and for centuries more before the recent Western embracement of the sensation. While many today view it as an opportunity to exercise, gain muscle, or burn calories, the original purpose of yoga was much more focused on spiritual development rather than physical. Today’s American gyms focus on teaching the exercise and poses while conveniently forgetting to address the self awareness and development differentiates it from all other sports.
Not all is lost however, one can still reap the benefits of traditional yoga if they take the time to learn how to properly practice it. Traditional yoga can help bring peacefulness to the mind of the practicer, relieving stress from many long days at work and decreasing susceptibility to diseases and burnout. To do this effectively, it requires the participant to choose to meditate while they work through the postures and poses that make yoga so iconic. While it is easy to “zone out” and focus on the physical movements one is completing, a return to traditional yoga requires mindfulness that is dedicated to refreshing the brain. This is the only way that one can achieve actual stress relief and other health benefits from yoga.
No one is born a yoga expert, and online is never quite the same as an in-person experience, so those interested in traditional yoga will want to find a high quality place of practice. Depending on your location this may be more difficult than for others, but is still feasible. Start by looking outside your gym membership. While it may have tantalizing free classes, they are the most likely to be focused on the exercise and physicality of yoga. Instead, look for independent studios taught by licensed instructors. Watch a class to determine if the instructor is leading the class in breathing and meditation activities or simply conducting them through the motions of yoga. Choose a location that you feel offers the most mentally in depth classes.
Overall, yoga done correctly can reap many benefits. Participants often find that develop a better connection between mind and body that leads to greater understanding of the self. It can help teach breathing techniques and meditation strategies that can release stress and prevent anxiety. Lastly, it teaches the participant how their own mind works, allowing them to live more consciously, identify triggers, and how to overcome natural responses. Traditional yoga, rather than modern yoga, is the key to unlocking the mental and physical benefits that non-practicers will spend hundreds of hours unsuccessfully chasing.