Getting to the Roots of Yoga


Philip GoldbergPhilip Goldberg, Interfaith Minister, author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’
 The Once and Future Yoga
Posted: 8/25/11 01:54 AM ET

September is almost upon us, and that means it’s once again Yoga Month. Started in 2008 and designated a national observance by the Department of Health and Human Services, its organizers define it as “an awareness campaign to educate about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle.” If you’ve been meaning to take a yoga class, this is your no-excuses opportunity, since one Yoga Month feature is the one week free yoga for new students at over 1200 studios.

One of the glories of the yoga tradition is that there’s something in it for everyone, whether you’re secular or spiritual, and whether you want flexible joints, a trim butt, a calm mind, a loving heart or a faster lane to enlightenment. At its best, yoga can deliver on those rewards and others, depending on the student’s dedication and the knowledge and skill of his or her teachers.

That versatility means you will find a huge variation in style, approach, specialty and emphasis. But, despite the diversity, you will probably find that at least 90 percent of every class is devoted to the stretches, bends and postures (asanas) that are now virtually synonymous with the word yoga. That fact has brought American yoga to an interesting moment in its brief and hugely successful history.

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