What is the difference between traditional and contemporary yoga?

Traditional yoga is a spiritual practice, with a goal of union with the absolute or the divine, while contemporary yoga focuses more on fitness. The various exercises we associate with hatha yoga were performed to prepare the body for long periods of meditation. As it's typically practiced in the West, the focus of yoga is more on the physical fitness aspects. Of course, it can be a spiritual experience, if you choose to use it as such.

There are many contemporary styles of yoga, most of which are variations of hatha yoga. All yoga styles seek balance of body, mind and spirit, but they may differ in how the asanas (movements) are done and in other ways, such as the focus on postures, alignment, flow of movement or breathing. Some may be designed to suit particular groups, such as pregnant women or older people, while others may use props or vary temperature.

Do your research and visit some classes if possible to decide which style and teacher best suits your needs. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.