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Y is for Yoga


If you've ever been in a yoga class, you might have felt a sense of calmness, fulfilling a longing for contentment. Yoga is often hailed as a remedy for depression and anxiety, and one might assume that India, with its ancient yoga traditions, holds the secret to true happiness. However, the reality of yoga's journey to the West is different. The original practices and history were lost in translation, giving rise to Western adaptations.


Take Hatha yoga, for example, which, in its original practice, included six kinds of purifications (Shatkarma) aimed at preparing the system and sustaining an expanded level of consciousness. One such practice, Varisara Dhauti, involves consuming salty warm water while performing specific postures (asanas) until it leads to defecation. Understandably, this would be slightly impractical in modern studios. Hence, Western adaptations emerged.


While some yoga forms retain elements of the original practices, the industry's creativity has turned it into a lucrative business, expanding to include Beer yoga, Noga (nude yoga), and even Hoga (yoga on a horse). Nowadays, people are led to believe that performing all asanas on a lotus-imprinted yoga mat, accompanied by a whispered 'Namaste,' contributes to their body and soul. However, if your focus is on doing a handstand while being high on marijuana (Ganja Yoga) or petting a cute puppy between the postures (Doga), that is cleverly marketed entertainment, not yoga.


This doesn't mean we should stop the practice altogether. Modern yoga, with its stress-relieving benefits through postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, still holds value. It's crucial to note that, while it serves as a helpful distraction for people with depression, its impact on anxiety is minimal, making it most effective as adjunctive therapy.


Nevertheless, its wide community fosters a crucial sense of belonging, which many people crave. If you want to benefit from modern yoga, you don’t need the newest yoga pants, a trip to an ashram, or even a mat. The practice can start right at home with a genuine intention to nurture your body and soul without any stimulating distractions. Namaste.



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