By Rachel Holmes
Although the last ten to fifteen years has seen an explosion in the number of yoga teacher training intensives around the world, many of these interns began studying yogic methodology as part of an exercise trend that has swept across world since it started to become popular. Yogic exercise was praised for being a low-impact physical activity and marketed to people across various demographics that needed something less cardiovascularly demanding than an aerobics class or a long morning run. People began to understand yoga training as an activity that would help them lose weight and relax at the same time, and many became avid practitioners who soon advanced to more complex and demanding sessions.
It is true that with this popularization of yogic practices, many gyms and studios began to offer sessions strictly for exercise, adapting some of the Ashtanga style sequences to create a more generalized form of power yoga. But even these students soon realized that yogic methodology is not simply an exercise routine, it is a lifestyle.
Physical fitness is one of the most popular parts of the yoga lifestyle. The promise of increased bodily health has been one of the main reasons yoga has become so accessible to such a wide range of students. The asana sequences practiced in classes strengthen muscles while increasing flexibility and cardiovascular health, an attractive combination to young and old alike who are looking for ways to get active.
A calm interior is another attractive promise yoga training gives to its students. The breathing and focus strategies introduced in even the most basic classes allow students a way to calm their minds and relax their bodies. In a stressful, fast-paced world, this is becoming ever more necessary.
Healthy diets seem to be an offshoot of regular practice. Gurus attribute this to the fact that students become more in tune with their own bodies, and they begin to actively seek out the nutrition their bodies crave. Another positive associated with a healthier diet is increased physical fitness and mental alertness.
Ethical living is another important idea that anchors the practice of yogic methods to daily life. Yoga's code of ethics include ideas about honesty and nonviolence along with contentment and self-discipline - These principles, known as the yamas and niyamas, guide practitioners toward ethical living.
Attainment of wisdom is associated with yoga's ancient practices. The connection of the individual to the universal through stronger mind-body awareness is a primary tenet of yoga wisdom, going back through the centuries. Practitioners use meditation combined with asanas and ancient knowledge to achieve personal transcendence.
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