By Gopi Rao
Around the world, many people wonder about the purpose of yoga today. Yet, the practice of yoga has become more and more widespread in the last two decades. Primarily advanced as a healthy, less strenuous form of exercise, yoga’s popularity is due in large part to the fit and actively healthy life styles of those who practice it.
As a result of this, some people are surprised to learn that yoga was not primarily designed as a fitness routine. Traditional forms of yoga are not geared toward aerobic activity and weight loss; in fact, yoga was originally designed to calm people down. Instead of increasing heart rates and jump-starting metabolic conditions, yoga actually slows the body down, and that includes a person’s heart rate.
Many readers might be surprised to learn that the original intention of yoga was to cultivate self-discipline and self-awareness through a physical development of spiritual principles. For example, the breathing techniques and focus on balance that a typical session emphasizes was originally thought of as a way for yogis to connect with their inner consciousness and meditative needs.
If it was initially a meditative practice, but purpose of yoga today worked its way into mainstream exercise industry by marketing itself as a fitness tool offering many advantages that hurried people were seeking in an exercise program – lower stress levels, advanced relaxation techniques, and greater physical flexibility. Also, it has been true that consistent practice has helped participants through an increased awareness of their bodies. The medical industry has also become aware of a steadily progressing interest in healthy living among yoga practitioners, who have been able to shed excess pounds while strengthening their muscles, limbs, and core.
Different yoga traditions like Bikram, a relatively new form of yoga that practices the same series of poses in a heated room, have become more popular as practitioners look for ways to increase the physical difficulty level of the typical session. At the same time, many experienced yogis still maintain that spiritual discipline and self-exploration should be emphasized during yoga poses. These practitioners adhere to a more ancient form of the modern yoga version, which tries to combine physical fitness with techniques for relaxation. Indeed, advocates for including yoga in public and private school curriculum have needed to strip yoga of its religious connotations in favor of advancing its mental and physical benefits.
Even deprived of the spiritual disciplines that yoga was originally meant to develop, the advantages of a consistent practice include better emotional health, mental clarity, and physical fitness, which makes the purpose of yoga today an important part of an individual’s daily or weekly routine. The point being: Yoga has now been incorporated into societies around the world and will evolve around the needs of each culture that embraces the traditional practice. There is no way Yoga will stand still and become a closed system. There are too many positive results that have been proven through medical and scientific studies. The country of India and the world will not put Yoga back into the closet and surround it with mysticism.
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