about yoga todayBy Virginia Iversen 

The practice of Yoga today is much different than it was thousands of years ago. Some estimates are that Yoga originated over five thousand years ago in India. The practice of Yoga, which means union or yoke with the Divine, encompasses physical postures known as asanas, specialized breathing or pranayama techniques and meditation practices. Depending on one’s personal affinity and aptitude, a well-rounded Yoga practice may also include an adherence to the Yamas and Niyamas, as well as scriptural study and a regular practice of swadhyaha and kirtan. Our modern practice of Yoga asanas often stops at the physical level and does not even necessarily include breathing exercises or meditation techniques, much less a study of the scriptural basis of Yoga practices.

However, the way that Yoga has been incorporated into a diversity of fitness options is quite seamless. Although many traditional practitioners may argue that the practice of Yoga today has been reduced to just another form of exercise or a fancy gymnastics routine, many of the lessons inherent in the Yogic system of ethics and morality are often intertwined into a class, if led by a great Yoga teacher. Additionally, in our modern society, Yoga routines have been creatively and sensitively customized in order to maximize the practice’s therapeutic benefits for a variety of practitioners. Some of these special populations include children, older folks, cancer and cardiac patients, as well as practitioners who struggle with anxiety, depression and insomnia. Yoga has also been introduced into prison settings and formal school settings.

Yoga Today – Niches

There are also Yogic practices that are geared just for men. Yoga classes that are specialized for men are on the cutting edge of new niches. Specific Yoga for men classes may not include all of the bells and whistles, but they do pack a punch, as they say. Many of the classes for men are based on Power Yoga or Ashtanga practices. These classes help make the practice of Yoga more accessible to men who might otherwise be turned off by the softer side of Yogic methodology. The practice of asanas is based on using one’s own body as a system of pulleys and levers to tone, strengthen and elongate all of the muscles and ligaments in the body, as well as tone and cleanse the internal organs. Performing the poses with optimal alignment will unlock the magic of a regular Yoga practice, with or without the delicacy of flowers, chanting and aromatherapy eye pillows. Tailoring Yoga classes to specialized populations is one of the main hallmarks of Yoga today. It makes an incredibly effective practice accessible to many groups of people who would otherwise remain unaware of its benefits.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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