Yoga has now become a worldwide phenomenon. Yoga has taken the world by storm and is experiencing a resurgence in Adults, children, and teenagers practicing Yoga in various venues, including gyms, schools, homes, offices, yoga studios, and temples, the overseas.
Because we all know that spirituality is an essential component of human nature, the question naturally arises:
Is Yoga, as it is practiced in the modern world, still connected to its primary roots?
Here are some key differences between traditional and modern Yoga to dispel any doubts.
Yoga centers in today’s Age, contrary to the Yoga Ashrams:
While traditional Yogis feel that the ideal approach to learning Yoga is in the midst of nature, using proper inscribed traditional methods. Yoga is widely practiced at Yoga centers with all of the essential amenities in the twenty-first century.
2. Spirituality is the substructure of Yoga in Ancient Times:
It’s critical to realize that Yoga is not one thing. It’s a collection of thousands of years’ worth of physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines.
Authentic yoga ashrams made sure that their students understood how to live a peaceful life through Yoga. Patanjali’s eight Yoga Sutras limbs, including asanas, pranayama, Dharana, dhyana, yamas, niyamas, pratyahara, and samadhi, were followed.
Spiritual habits, including studying sacred texts, self-reflection, and time in nature, were less well-known but equally significant.
In modern Yoga, the teacher is only teaching the right positions of the Yogic exercise.
Traditional Yoga has its roots in the initiatory tradition of the Guru-Disciple connection, which is supported by a spiritual heritage that spans generations. The interaction between guru and shishya (teacher and student) in Vedic times was incredibly close, almost familial—a different paradigm than we have today. Yog gurus who not only focused on the physical components of Yoga but also worked for their pupils’ mental and spiritual upliftment received a reputable reputation.
Modern Yoga is not built on such a foundation.
The Novelty of the Practice is Maligned:
Back then, a student who was fortunate enough to be accepted by their desired teacher would live in the ashram of that teacher until the teacher indicated they were finished. Meanwhile, the pupil was expected to assist the teacher in practical ways, such as chopping wood, getting water, caring for the teacher’s animals and crops, and doing whatever was required.
Although the teacher-student connection was valuable, the student owed his teacher a parting fee after finishing his studies (Guru Dakshina). This could be money, but it was not always the case. Modern Yoga does not entertain any such gestures and is a source of income.
Food Discipline of Yoga is Undermined:
The yoga diet is regarded as a sacred entity in philosophy. Having the right attitude when eating a yogic diet was crucial in the ancient approach. The determination to endure short-term hardship to achieve longer-term goals, both personal and societal, was at its heart. The food amount, quality, time, and order of consumption were all critical in Yoga. Foods were classified in the ancient medical system based on their flavor, and dietary recommendations were based on how foods with varied tastes impact persons with different constitutions. These various sheaths represented various degrees of consciousness. One had to purify the outermost sheath by following the Yogic Scriptures’ Pathya (wholesome) /Apathy (unwholesome) dietary instructions to raise one’s consciousness.
In modern Yoga, however, the discipline does not foster ahimsa (nonviolence), Yama (self-control), and Niyama (personal observances), particularly Shaucha (cleanliness/purity) and Santosha (compassion) (contentment), and does not emphasize the food-mind-body connection.
The Evolution of Teaching Practices:
Traditional Yoga is classified into Yoga types, which symbolize diverse spiritual self-realization techniques. Meditation, pranayama, and Savasana are taught in yoga schools
The practice of modern Yoga builds on [Yoga] while incorporating new elements of health and Yoga to produce a unique practice. Western Yoga is mostly focused on Vinyasa and flow, which involves doing rapid asana-like dance step sequences while standing or moving upward and downward.
Yoga as a Lifelong Learning Process:
Traditional Yoga was more of a daily lifestyle program, with rituals and practices to develop the mind and heart throughout the day.
Modern Yoga is viewed as a workout or relaxation practice done for an hour or so a few times a week.
Yoga as a proponent of Minimalism:
Traditional Yoga emphasizes ethical and moral purity, intense concentration, profound faith, and unshakable devotion to its practice by offering a simple way of living by detaching from worldly possessions and attractions.
While modern yoga practitioners go about their daily lives, Yoga is solely used in the modern world to preserve one’s health.
The serenity of the Mind and its Accountability:
According to ancient Yoga, it was a peaceful road to making the body unresponsive to emotions such as sadness, rage, possessiveness, and so on, transforming you into a perfect Yogi. Its goal was to gradually shift the energy emphasis away from the external, sensory, transient reality and toward the interior, spiritual, eternal truth.
For the most part, Modern Yoga does not emphasize such a concept, without considering consider mindfulness an essential aspect of the practice.
The Paradigm Shift of the School of Yoga:
In ancient times, Yoga was a fresh start to a life free of sin, with clothing that allowed you to easily practise all of the asanas. Though everything is commercialised to some extent, the problem is when yoga’s mind-body-spirit link is fully lost and the practice’s spiritual values and symbols are monetized.
Making yoga into a product and a strongly promoted lifestyle has detracted from the core of the practice. Students and teachers alike have conflicting feelings about the corporate world’s incursion into Yoga.
The yoga diaspora began well over a century ago, and new manifestations and applications of Yoga continue to emerge in the modern world. As an undeniable practice of comprehensive well-being, it has grown in popularity globally over the last decade, facing a mixed bag of potential and disadvantages.
It is understood in many ways in the current Yoga narrative, ranging from meditation practice to sports on one end and from a medicinal modality to a spiritual path. It can be challenging to tell which is which.
Despite the numerous advantages, the problems pose the possibility of Yoga becoming formulaic and commodified, as many other mature industries have done in recent years.
Mr. Harish Singh Pawali aka Hari Pawali
Owner and Founder of Shree Hari Yoga School