How Yoga Became Part of American Culture

Yoga in the United States today

Over the past 100 years or so, yoga has seen many forms and innovations – from hot yoga and restorative yoga to goat yoga and intensive posture and exercise forms of yoga – with yogis and teachers. bringing their own flavor and approach to Hatha Yoga to the United States.

The average American is willing to spend $ 90 a month on yoga classes. 94% of yoga students attribute yoga classes to wellness-related reasons – and 44% of Americans who practice yoga attend classes two to three times a week, according to an Eventbrite poll.

According to the Mayo Clinic, several studies point to the potential health benefits of yoga, from reducing stress and anxiety to an increased sense of well-being.

Despite the positive influence, not all practitioners are happy to see how yoga has evolved in American culture.

“Yoga is not a science of physical exercise. It is a science of spiritual awakening. Most Americans don’t understand this.

Saddvi Bhagwati Saraswati

“It’s good that people are adopting yoga more and more, but at the same time, there is an over-commercialization of yoga,” said Neeti Bhatia, director of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in New York City. “It defeats the purpose of yoga in the first place. For me yoga is a way of life, but now there are many forms of yoga in America. And now there is too much emphasis, not only on the postures, but mostly on their physical aspect.This is an even more superficial and unhappy part. As a result, yoga only works on the physical level. Yoga has to work on the mental and spiritual levels.

“I came to understand that yoga is a way of life and a constant practice of self-refinement. “

Raaghav Pandya

Saddvi Bhagwati Saraswati agreed, “Yoga is not a science of physical exercise. It is a science of spiritual awakening. Most Americans don’t understand this … Of course, enjoy the exercise. But it is a system for life.

For some Asian American practitioners, yoga is more than just a physical practice.

“I was brought to understand that yoga was a way of life and a constant practice of self-refinement,” said Raaghav Pandya, a yoga practitioner who learned the philosophy from Swadhyay Parivar, an international spiritual organization that focuses on self-study and selfless devotion. . “As you look within to improve your connection with your inner self and learn to build selfless relationships, I think you are doing yoga.”

On the positive side, yoga teachers are seeing more students interested in the philosophy, depth, and history of yoga.

“I have seen a huge increase in interest in the study and philosophy of the yoga text,” said Bryant, who has taught yoga for 25 years. “I see people getting into a real yogic way of life and thinking, which tries to fix the mind to feel peace and open up the possibility of a greater experience.”

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