Yoga classes, trends, and apparel abound these days in settings that range from candlelit rooms to local breweries to paddleboards and trampolines. Glo-Sticks, retro playlists, paints, and blank canvases all seem to sweeten the pot by offering a “new twist” on an ancient practice. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 24 to 36 million Americans profess to love yoga; yet, despite all the hype, does modern yoga resemble the ancient practice at its origins?
Yoga comes from the word “to yoke,” meaning to combine – in this case, the union of body, mind, and spirit. The practice was created 5,000 years ago by Indian men, doggedly training their bodies to remain still for hours of soul-searching meditation. They wore loose-fitting clothing, not curve-hugging “yoga pants.” They sat on the ground, not on colored mats. The goal was not to multi-task or even engage with others but to detach from the material world and cultivate self-awareness – turning inward to explore the deepest layers of the self. The ritual was sacred and fairly complex, with intense concentration and focused, mindful breathing. The ultimate goal was to make peace with others and one’s place in the universe.
The more popular yoga has become, the more it seems to wear a mystical aura as a cure-all for any physical ailment, mental blockage, or lack of spiritual alignment. Its three main components are:
- Poses (asana)
- Breathing (pranayama)
- Focused gaze (drishti)
Exercise science reaffirms the powerful combination of yoga’s three aspects: it permits the mind and body to rest, promotes blood circulation, and stimulates the body to eliminate toxins. But Westernized yoga itself, as we know and practice it today, actually represents just two out of the “eight limbs of enlightenment” outlined in the Yoga Sutras, ancient Hindu, and Buddhist texts. Modern-day yoga arose in the late 19th century, rounding itself out with elements of Indian wrestling and European gymnastics.
Is there a “right” way to practice yoga? Whether it’s a (relatively) traditional 19th century approach or the latest evolution of a dynamic practice, many teachers say that connection to the self makes any version of the practice authentic and valid—with the important caveat that you avoid over-exerting yourself and risking injury.
Are you a yoga devotee? Are you looking to get started? At Natural Health Chiropractic and Acupuncture, we will enhance and complement your practice with our holistic approach to wellness, stress relief, and personal evolution.
Natural Health Chiropractic & Acupuncture serves the residents of Rochester, New York and the surrounding areas. Our location in Gates is conveniently located just off I-390 with easy access and plentiful parking. Easy to get to from Greece, Spencerport, Chili, and Henrietta.Leave a reply →