The difference between Yoga in the East and Yoga in the West
Yesterday I finished my second Amrita Yoga retreat of 2016. My body feels so different from when I first arrived at the Ashram. A few weeks ago and upon the completion of my 500 hour teacher training course, my body felt angry with me. Even sitting with my legs crossed hurt. 500 hours of yoga in two months would be taxing for anyone, but I had a hip impingement and an issue in my shoulder before I even arrived for the teacher training. I mistakenly thought it would heal during the training but it didn’t.
There were many yoga workshops during the training where my muscles weren’t warm enough so I believe I made the hip issue worse. While I learned so much and believe my teaching skills have improved greatly, my own physicality was severely tested.
Once at the Ashram, I had two choices. One – give my body a nice long break from yoga. Or, two – dive right into two Amrita yoga retreats. I came to the conclusion that movement was going to be more healing than stagnation. Besides, I would be a student. I wouldn’t be teaching any classes.
Surprisingly, all my injuries healed as the training went along. What do I credit this too? Many things. Though the Asana classes were long they were much more gentle than what I was doing in teacher training. For the record, the training provided for YTT was exceptional but it was “Advanced” teacher training and my body wasn’t in the right place to be doing so many advanced poses. Also the style was different. A sun salutation in India is quite different than in the West.
I think Western practices are more focused on fitness where in the East the focus is on the spiritual. My preference as a student is the Indian way. I LOVE chanting and focusing on the spiritual aspects of Yoga. However, I know a lot of my friends in the West would think the courses here in India are too “hippy dippy.” To each their own.
That’s what I love about Yoga. There is something for everyone. In the future, I see myself mixing the two styles, both for my personal practice and for when I am teaching. The mix between the two is what suits me best as a person and as a teacher. By combining what I have learned in both the East and West, I am hoping to be a more well rounded student and instructor. In the future, I see myself always traveling back and forth between these two worlds learning all I can from various traditions.