Traditional V Modern Yoga
When we think of the word Yoga the first thing that pops up into your head might be downward dog or the tree pose, or even getting fit easily. But is that what yoga really is? Well, Yes and No. Yes in the sense that yoga is just forming a pose with your body, practicing breathing, and switching to another. But it is also so much more. It is to slow down the body and internalize awareness. This is the difference between modern and traditional yoga practices.
Modern, or contemporary yoga, is what most of us know it as today. More focused on the physical aspects of the practice of yoga, this modern rendition has many different names and styles. Fast paced and sweaty. Dark and loud. Sweltering hot and deadly quiet. But how can so many different things still be categorized as the same thing? Over time the definition of yoga has changed to accommodate the needs of practitioners. What was once a 90 minute class of complete and utter silence has been transformed into a 45 minute non stop movement class with an instructor and a microphone, shouting out poses. “Child’s Pose! Now Warrior Pose!” But is that necessarily bad? When most of us don’t have time to go to the gym several times a week and have a 90 minute silent reflection session while working a full time job or jobs, can you blame the desire for a more accessible option? Now instead of making time for all of these last minute gym sessions AND contemplative breathing exercises, they can be fit into one thing, Modern Yoga.
Unlike modern yoga where the main objective is usually to get fit, traditional yoga’s main purpose is a spiritual practice, a union with the divine. First mentioned in the sacred texts of the Rig Veda over 5,000 years ago. Often used as an umbrella term, Hatha Yoga was a common practice in the Western Hemisphere. Done through a series of deep poses, its intention is to move us towards a more enriched body and mind, which modern yoga lacks. Instead of an instructor with a microphone, expect a yogi to guide you through an array of focused breathing techniques and movements to cleanse and open your mind. Don’t expect to leave in a short forty five minutes but instead buckle in for a ninety minute lesson, where it’s more than just getting a deeper stretch or a flatter tummy. If you are new to practicing Hatha Yoga, you won’t get “it” the first time. Or the second. This is not something that you just walk into and walk out a changed person. You will be required to give your whole being into this, letting go of earthly distractions and personal problems and instead looking within and asking yourself the hard questions.
Now that you know a little bit about both modern and traditional yoga, you get to decide! Which one works best for you and your needs? What are you looking for in a yoga class? What are you looking to get out of this? Don’t be afraid to try both, either. Just remember to be respectful and do your research on exactly what journey you’re about to embark on.