February 17, 2023 | 0 min read

Yoga - An Ancient Practice Trending in the Western World

Yoga - a practice originating from ancient India with references dating back to as early as 1200-900 BCE from the Vedic period. The practice started appearing in early Buddhist texts and the Bhagavad Gita as systematic concepts from 500-200 BCE. The middle ages (500-1500 CE) saw the emergence of subsidiary yoga traditions, giving rise to the Hatha yoga practice.

Yoga was introduced to the west by the first Indian teacher Swami Vivekananda when he toured Europe and the United States in the 1890s. He presented yoga as a ‘science of the mind’ and was received well by the intellectuals of the western world. 1

With time Yoga was stripped of its spiritual connotations and promoted as a holistic mind-body-breath practice. Yoga became for everyone from all walks of life, race, ethnicity, and religion. It started taking the shape of a pathway towards inner well-being - physical comfort and emotional contentment.

The importance of yoga research in western healthcare is increasing .2

In the year 2020, PubMed published over 46 clinical studies using yoga (including meditation) as the intervention. 3 It is one of the most common complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments adopted globally and its relevance in the future of therapy is significant. A recent RAND 4 study indicates that 60% of American adults live with at least one chronic condition and 42% endure more than one chronic disorder. Some of the most common illnesses range from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes to mental problems of anxiety and depression.

Today India is attracting flocks of western tourists to yoga destinations like Mysore, Rishikesh, Kerala, and Goa either to learn yoga or experience a yoga retreat coupled with some ayurvedic massages. Steve Jobs, the Beatles, and Ram Das are some of the famous western celebrities who have inspired people to travel to India for spiritual purposes as well. While yoga has been made more technique-oriented, scientific, and increasingly recognized by doctors and physicians as a complementary treatment to western medication, there is a fair segment of the population exploring the larger spiritual calling Yoga has to offer. Today exploring the depths of yoga directly by Yoga Experts from India is only a click away with Live online yoga and meditation classes offered by Kalari.

Spiritual Indian leaders like Sadhguru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Osho have spoken on many global forums and have a diverse following from all over the world. Yoga has been adapted and modernized to appease westerners over the years. This could only be done because the practice devoid of its original purpose of intent has profound health benefits. People who have experienced this difference and who are curious for more always push.

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