Yoga in the West
Yoga is an ancient Indian art that harmonizes the body, mind and spirit. Yoga is becoming popular in the west for many reasons. Many Hollywood celebrities and sport stars vouch for the efficacy of yoga. Read on to know more about the popularity and growth of yoga in the west.
Growth of Yoga in the West
In the 1800s and 1900s many Indian gurus traveled to the west to spread the message of yoga philosophy. Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda etc. gave popular discourses and kindled the interest of westerners in yoga and meditation. Max Mueller motivated the Germans to learn Sanskrit and Indian philosophy.
Hatha Yoga in the West
Hatha yoga is the most popular form of yoga in the west because of its proven physical benefits. Besides, some westerners are wary of the spiritual connotations of yoga, and simply want to improve their body with hatha yoga. Yoga in the west has been adapted to suit varied cultures and sentiments. Thus, you have Christian yoga, Jewish yoga, naked yoga, gay yoga and even dog yoga to name a few innovations.
Popularity of Yoga in the West
Currently, about 30 million Americans and one million Britons practice hatha yoga. Most yoga classes involve breath control, gentle stretching and meditation. Iyengar and Ashtanga yoga are also popular along with hatha yoga. Many western studios have fused traditional yoga with other exercise forms to produce blended techniques like Body Conditioning, Body Balancing and Yogalates.
Yoga Controversies in the West
Some purists say the western emphasis on only the physical aspects of yoga, negates the holistic characteristics of this art form. Some religious fundamentalists oppose the Hindu spiritual overtones of yoga. Not surprisingly, yoga in the west has been modified to suit all sensibilities. Scientific research has conclusively proved the physical and psychological benefits of yoga. This is one of the main reasons for the increasing popularity of yoga in the west despite its Indian origin.