How an American sees Yoga in the West

  • How do Americans perceive Yoga? Article is a deep dive into Yoga in the West and covers Yoga in America, What is Yoga, Background & Growth, The a Science behind it, Personal and Social Benefits.

On the outside, yoga is a popular exercise technique that combines core strength, body flexibility, and stillness of mind and body. In reality, yoga is a spiritual, physical, and mental activity that combines the innate power of the body with both the mind and soul.

Practiced by nearly 20 million adults in the United States alone, yoga has become a worldwide phenomenon; and much more than it was originally. Over the years, yoga has been scientifically proven to have a significant positive impact on both physical and mental (sometimes even emotional) wellbeing.
It is currently being recommended as a helpful tool in handling and living with mental health issues, even so much as being stated to be a contributor to stable and positive mental health and aptitude.

So, what is yoga? Where did it come from and how has it developed? More importantly, what impact and effect does it have on the modern world that we live in today?

Let’s take a deep dive into yoga in our everyday lives. 

Yoga in America

Yoga was introduced by Swami Vivekananda to America and now, is a massive industry in the United States - and it’s a major leading a healthy lifestyle for millions of Americans whilst being a fashion style for others).
Americans treat Yoga as a work-out when in India they take it a little bit deeper. In America, Yoga is being treated as a “soft exercise” to be done as a brief warmup before the real workout.

Studies show that the main five reasons for the practice of Yoga in the U.S.A. are stronger-physically and mentally; reducing stress; feeling happier; and working out - in this order.

Yoga or Fashion style?

We can find Racism, if we take a second we can notice that in the ads there are only white people; the other is Cultural Appropriation, as an example, we have the “Namaste” word, it has a meaning but if we don’t know why are you saying it, then you are doing it wrong.

Last but not least Social Media. For a large majority, yoga in U.S.A. has become this thing where people do a difficult Asana, take a picture to post it on Social Media.

Let’s all remember that yoga should be about internal experiences. Yoga is a way to mind management.

Background & Growth

The traditional approaches and interpretation of yoga originated in India thousands of years ago, originally as a deeply spiritualistic and thoughtful process, which can be seen even in our modern interpretations of the practice. However, it was the beginning of the 20th century that saw it come into its more modern uses. Wellbeing specialists and health physicians began to discover both the physical and mental benefits of yoga practices and begun to assign it as a therapeutic practice, bodily health practice, and anxiety stabilizing activity. 

Yoga swelled in popularity during the mid-20th century, grabbed hold of the developed world in the 1970s, and started to slowly melt over the years into the popular piece of culture that it is today.

The Science behind It

The scientific world has invested both time and money trying to understand the many effects of yoga practices on both the brain and body. A growing number of these studies highlight a number of positive effects, and rarely any negative ones. Yoga’s biggest scientific effect is the reduction of stress and anxiety, and it has recently been shown to reduce depression and negative mental health too. 

Physically, it has been shown to reduce lower back pain, improve the lives of those with long-term illnesses and medical conditions, stimulate overall mental acuity, and even prevent heart disease. In those studied, the overall quality of life of the person is better when yoga is part of their routine.

Personal Benefits

The personal benefits of yoga are obvious. Even if you just consider the breathing techniques and ability to calm and center yourself; it already has had a positive impact. Everybody gets into situations in their daily lives that stress them out, and the principles taught in yoga help you relax and center yourself in your day-to-day life.

The physical benefits of yoga, as mentioned earlier in the scientific portion of this article, are plain to see. Your body will become stronger, especially in its core and balance areas; and your overall flexibility will improve. This will strengthen your body and make it less susceptible to illness and injury.

Social Benefits

Yoga requires full concentration, focus, and the ability to stay still and be in the moment. These skills, when developed properly, will have a significant positive effect on your relationships. Whether a partner, friend, a child or a family member; people in your life require your focus and time to develop and foster meaningful connections. These skills are gained and fostered in yoga. The focus and attention to detail you develop in yoga will become part of your personal life and relationships.

You can see yoga as an out-of-date way to get your mind in the right place, an ‘old-school’ technique to focus your mental acuity and calm anxiety, or simply dismiss it completely; but you cannot deny the proven medical effects of the practice.
Though its background is in the distant past, it is anything but old-school. As mental health comes to the forefront of our minds, yoga, and the mediating solutions it brings should be there too. Its impact on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing cannot be denied. Go forth and conquer, yogis!

Yoga and Gender

Despite the fact yoga is equally beneficial for both men and women, many more women regularly practice this activity. Not only is Yoga dominated by women, but many men are anxious about attempting yoga now.

Some men get concerned that they’ll be conspicuous as the solitary person in the room. They might not have any desire to humiliate themselves in the class by not "being sufficiently flexible”,  and some even concerned that they'll be viewed as unpleasant for needing to go to a class full of women. 

Yoga should be about great acceptance, non-judgment place, and equality.

Author Regina  is an online learning consultant at  Academic brits who enjoys writing. 

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