Indian yoga is spiritual and divine. As yoga is originated from India, it can also be called as traditional yoga. Historical ancestry is the main difference between Indian yoga and western yoga. Indian yoga focuses on a sacred practice having union with the absolute. Western yoga on the other hand is quite contemporary.
The main aim of western yoga is fitness. Indian yoga helps in preparing the body for longer periods of meditation while western yoga helps in preparing the body on physical aspects. Indian yoga helps in attaining enlightenment and expanding consciousness. It is much more than the asana practice. The utmost state of body, mind and soul is the art in Indian yoga.
Over the years various modifications have been made in yoga and practiced all over the world but the true essence of yoga which is known by the name of Vedas is traditional yoga. Various points high lightening the difference between Indian yoga and western yoga are listed below:
Style of Yoga
Indian yoga is the original form of yoga whereas western yoga is open to adaptation. The style of performing yoga in Indian as well as western may vary. Different types of kriyas and mudras are part of Indian yoga whereas western yoga focuses on stretching and flexibility of the body.
Types of Yoga
Western yoga is more into innovations compared to Indian yoga which is already formed and followed. Different kinds of yoga like hot yoga, Aerial yoga, acro yoga have been introduced in western yoga while the Indian form of yoga has various art forms of yoga like hatha yoga, iyengar yoga etc.
Indian yoga gives more attention to nature. Mostly yoga done in India is in open or in ashrams close to nature. Its main goal is to be connected with nature. Western yoga is done in yogic centers.
Relationship between student and teacher
The relationship of Indian yoga teachers with students is completely opposite from that of Western teachers. Indian teachers are given the status of “gurus” as they are more inclined towards spirituality and self awareness before yoga postures whereas western teachers are quite modern in their approach. For them, flexibility and exercises plays a very important role. The history of yoga is explained well by Indian yoga teachers as they want their students to understand the ancient history of yoga and they concentrate on mental flexibility more compared to physical flexibility.
Indian yogic centers follow the concept of strict vegetarian food as they believe that to make the body heal within itself one must consume a diet which has ayurvedic herbs and spices. This is not the case with western yogic centers. They have quite modern approach towards the diet as they believe the body needs herbal green tea, seasonal fruits, vegetables etc. to cleanse itself. In this way, western yoga follows a customized diet plan while Indian yoga follows a yogic diet plan.
Goals in yoga
In India, the yoga is quite peaceful and relaxed. As it concentrated more on spirituality, its main aim is devoting oneself to God. Meditation is a very important part of Indian yoga. As western yoga is designed to stay fit and healthy, it is quite an intense approach which includes lots of fitness exercises. Maintaining the body weight and gaining strength is the main goal of western yoga.
In India, yoga is a process which is time consuming. Yogic gurus devote their whole life in yoga. Western yoga is more about the completion of course. They have fixed duration of time and after that people consider themselves professionals.
Connection with the body
Indian yoga has a connection not only towards a person’s body but also its brain. It helps in bringing calmness in the mind and encourages wisdom and serenity. Western yoga has a relation towards the physical aspect and activity of the body rather than the mental aspect. Having a fit body is the purpose of western yoga and it has no connection with the nature.
The main purpose of Indian yoga is to get relieved from stress, tensions and other negative problems. Bringing positivity in one’s life is the main ambition of yoga. Western yoga is not concerned about the individual’s mental health. It is mainly about making more money.
The attires in Indian yoga and western yoga are quite contradictory. Indian yoga encourages wearing a comfortable attire so that the asanas are performed easily. In western yoga, professionals wear fashionable clothing.
Differing Cultural Values
Usually yogic and saints who perform traditional yoga in India reject worldly and materialistic pleasures and doesn’t live a fancy life. Professionals in western yoga are only interested in maintaining their health and for them yoga is not their life but just a part of their schedules.
Nowadays many aerobic concept like dance and exercises have been included in western yoga while Indian yoga is still quite traditional as it follows savasana and pranayama.
Many props like blocks, bolsters, chairs etc. have now been included as a part in yoga. With the help of these props it becomes easy for a practitioner to perform postures which would have been quite difficult to do otherwise. Hence getting the postures right is the main purpose of western yoga whether it is with the help of props or without. Indian yoga strictly does not allow the use of props. They consider props as quite fancy and prefer doing yoga in a traditional way as they believe getting postures right in not important but having an experience is.
Improving the flexibility in the body, reducing stress, attaining self awareness and having inner mental peace are all advantages of Indian yoga. Gaining physical strength, confidence and healthy living lifestyle are all advantages of western yoga.
Indian yoga also helps in making our mind non reactive to feelings like sadness, anger etc as it is a meditative technique. Western yoga is more about a physical workout. The most common yoga practice in India is Hatha yoga while western yoga follows Vinyasa yoga.
Importance of Meditation
Indian yoga starts by channelizing one’s energy and breathing exercises so that it can cleanse the body and mind. Meditation is very important part in Indian yoga. Inhaling and exhaling is a deep relaxing breath important in Indian yoga.
There is an ancient procedure of using a neti pot in Indian yoga. With the help of neti pot the practitioner is able to breathe better so that that its sense of smell is improved. This also helps in recognizing the taste of the food better. No such practices are there in western yoga.
The Differences Between Indian Yoga and Western Yoga Summary
|Indian yoga||Western yoga|
|It is mostly done in open or close to nature.||It is mostly done in yoga centers or classes.|
|It follows a meditative technique. It is more about relaxing.||It is more about stretching and being flexible.|
|Not only the physical aspect but it also helps with problem like stress, anxiety etc.||Physical strength and healthy lifestyle is the main goal of western yoga.|
|Teacher in India is considered as “guru”. So the relation between the student and guru is of respect and quite formal,||The relation between teacher and student is quite friendly and the student can ask about any query or doubt.|
|Hatha Yoga, Iyengar yoga are the types in Indian yoga.||Acro Yoga, hot yoga are the types in western yoga.|
|Indian yoga is quite traditional as it follows savasana and pranayama.||Western yoga is modern and may include dance and exercise.|
In many ways, Indian yoga is quite different from western yoga. Though there may be common asanas in both the form of yoga but the ideologies are completely different. Western yoga is more about business while Indian yoga is more about mental and spiritual well being. Indian yoga is a lifelong process whereas western yoga is for a short duration till the course gets completed.
Both have its advantages. The yogis in India take yoga so seriously that for them yoga is not just a physical performance but a spiritual attainment. Spiritual text, chanting mantras like ‘om’ are part of Indian yoga whereas no such practice is done in western yoga. Western yoga is more about disciplining the body while Indian yoga is more about disciplining the mind. A guru i.e. a teacher in Indian yoga is considered of high level so questioning him regarding the practices is not welcomed as they have lot of ancient knowledge and experience. In western yoga, the relation between the teacher and student is free and friendly. Asking questions and doubts and also challenging ideas is quite common in western yoga.
One must surrender to the guru in Indian yoga but that’s not the same case in western yoga. Sometimes a devotional prayer maybe held before the practice in Indian yoga as they find it religious and spiritual. Renowned personalities like Swami Vivekananda and Ramkrishna Paramhansa contributed in Indian yoga and have guided the world for free. Western yoga may have learned a lot from them but their ideologies are quite different. The roots of Yoga are from India but the importance of it has been studied all across the world and we can say that Yoga whether it is Indian or western has become quite popular all over the world.