Indian Yoga vs. Western Yoga

Eastern and Western Yoga

Yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years and continues even today. Yoga has become a way of life for children to youth and even the elderly all over the world. Today, Yoga is differentiated as Indian Yoga vs Western Yoga. This is nothing but a communication gap:

Indian Yoga vs. Western Yoga

It is true that over the years, many modifications and different practices have reformed Yoga, but that does not change the fact that Yoga was not born in different countries. The mother of Yoga is one, and we all know it by the name of Vedas.

Knowing that the human age has come a long way. Eastern Yoga is the original source of Yoga, whereas, Western Yoga is a more adaptable one. There is nothing wrong with the two; it is a matter of choice.

There are as many ways to practice yoga but the Eastern Yoga or India Yoga is the most original or the traditional form of Yoga. This is the yoga from all the other forms and styles have been inspired.

NOTE: In the ancient teachings, the first form of Yoga that was ever introduced was Hatha Yoga. It further gave birth to Vinyasa and Ashtanga Yoga, and there are other forms that exist today.

Yoga is a practice of mindfulness. There are many types to perform yoga in such as physical exercise, breath control, relaxation, diet control, positive thinking and lots of meditation aimed at developing harmony in the body, mind, and environment.

Born on January 12, 1863, Swami Vivekananda has influenced young minds to walk on the path of enlightenment. Swami Vivekananda has mentioned about the 4 pathways of attaining moksha. That is Raja-yoga, Karma-yoga, Jnana-yoga and Bhakti-yoga.

Another example of the yoga teachers is the Yoga Guru Swami Sivananda. Swami Sivananda wrote more than 200 books on yoga and philosophy.

History of Yoga

The history of yoga is divided into the following four broad categories:


  • In Sanskrit, the word Veda means “knowledge” and rig means “praise”.
  • Vedic Yoga can also be called Archaic Yoga. People believed this yoga as a ritualistic way of life.
  • Rituals, sacrifices, and ceremonies existed because they were considered as a means of connection to the spiritual world.
  • Vedic masters were gifted with a vision of the supreme reality.

Pre-Classical Yoga

  • The origin of the Yoga came into existence with its discovery in the Rig Veda
  • The rishis and high priests utilized and modified the practice during this time then later documented it. One of the most remarkable yoga scriptures is the Bhagavad-Gita
  • In this period, Yoga enumerated a way into Buddhism. Lord Buddha was first and foremost Buddhist to study Yoga.
  • It’s here that we begin to see rituals that when transmitted into action and wisdom can diminish the ego.

Classical Yoga

  • Classical Yoga is a proactive to seek knowledge from the scriptures (the Vedas).
  • Classical Yoga is universal and can be practiced by all
  • The whole system is combined process, with many different facets
  • It is a systematic approach, practiced over a long time where the goal is Peace and Self-realization
  • This is where Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras first emerged

Post-Classical Yoga

  • Post-classical yoga exposes us to yoga as a transformation practice for health
  • The post-classical Yoga includes all versions of Yogas
  • The proponent of modern Yoga (Post-classical yoga) is Swami Vivekananda who introduced Yoga in USA
  • He traveled throughout USA and propagated Yoga
  • This yoga differs from the Vedic, Pre-Classical, and Classical periods since it views yoga on a present scale
  • The end goal of the post-classical yoga is longevity and enlightenment

The term YOGA means union. It simply means to get connected to our true self and the universe within human body. Most people are familiar with the physical poses or yoga positions, but yoga involves much more than that.

Top 11 Difference between Indian Yoga Vs Western Yoga

Although the motto behind both Indian and Western Yoga is quite similar, yet they differ at many points such as Style of Practice, Yoga Ashrams, Gurus and Teachers, Diet Plans,  Way of Teaching, Commercialization of Yoga, Time required to learn Yoga, Relation between teacher and students, and ways to considerate Yoga as an approach towards nature.

1. The Style of Practice

  • Indian yoga includes various Kriyas and Mudras in their practices.
  • Western yoga are more into stretching and flexibility with the conventional style
  • In the West, fitness plays an important role. That is why Yoga is also made more of a fitness practice.
  • New-age styles yoga like Hot Yoga, Yin Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Acro Yoga, and more
  • These yoga are more of an innovation than an existing idea of what Yoga really is
  • The traditional or original art forms of Yoga like Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga hold more values and are followed in India

2. Yoga Ashrams

  • As we all know that Yoga was actually originated from India
  • India itself has a lot of Ashrams and Yoga centers than the western countries
  • In India- more attention is given to the natural environment
  • The main goal is to let the yogi connect with nature
  • In the West, the main attention has been given in setting up yogic centers

3. Gurus and Teachers

  • The relationship of Indian gurus with their students is totally different from the Western teachers
  • Indian yoga gurus shows their students towards the path of spirituality, conscious living, and self-awareness before performing asanas and yoga postures
  • They use the ancient history of Yoga to help students understand better
  • The western yoga teachers mainly focus on exercises and physical movements over mental flexibility

4. Diet Plans

  • There are many places in India that are known for their Ayurvedic influence all around the world [Kerala]. The idea behind it is to heal the body from within.
  • Vegetarian food is served in the Yogic training
  • The Diets are very conventional in Ashrams and Yoga centers in India
  • This includes Ayurvedic herbs, Spices, and more
  • Western side gives more emphasis to the customized diet plans which are not really a yogic diet plan
  • It cleanses the body with herbal green teas, vegetables, and seasonal fruits

5. Peaceful and Intense Yoga

  • In India, Yoga is considered to be a peaceful approach towards spirituality. It is considered to be deep meditation to devoting yourself to god.
  • But, In West Yoga is adopted to be a way to stay fit in life. It is adopted to maintain good physique and health. Yoga is an intense approach combining lot of exercises to increase strength and maintain body weight.

6. Yoga in India is a Time-Taking Process

  • In India, Yoga is considered as a lifelong approach or an approach towards a better life. Yoga gurus devotes their whole life towards yoga.
  • Whereas, in western region Yoga is not practiced for longer duration. They undergo a month course to do mastery in Yoga and thereby after completion consider themselves professionals.

7. An Approach Towards Nature

  • In India, Yoga is considered as a way to connect with nature. Yoga is a way to approach calmness in mind. Relentlessly, Yoga is a bio metrical approach towards courage, wisdom, and serenity.
  • But, in west Yoga is considered to be a shadowy subject which has no relation with Brain. It is moreover approach towards a fit body.

8. Yoga is Profitable Niche

  • In India, Yoga is an approach to remove negativity and inculcate positivity in life. Most probably, Yogis wear a cloth that is comfortable for them to perform yoga and carry their asanas
  • In Western world, Yoga is a game of billions. It is a way making money. Professionals are made to wear fashionable clothing while they are performing yoga

9. Denying all Worldly Pleasures

  • In India, Yoga is a way to deny all worldly pleasures and lead a normal life.
  • In western world, Yoga is a part of people’s schedule responsible to maintain their health

10. Style of Spreading the Knowledge

  • In India culture, Yoga is basically oriented towards meditation, pranayama, savasana but Western Yoga is more like an aerobic setup focusing on dance and other exercises just to keep body fit

11. Outcomes

  • If you are consistent, disciplined, and passionate, you can notice the benefits from it very short time
  • It improve body flexibility, performance, stress reduction, attainment of inner peace, and self-realization
  • Indian Yoga is a lifelong learning process
  • West provides a wide range of programs but in comparatively less duration
  • Yoga is a practice of living life
  • In West, yoga teachers require weeks or months of training to become a full-fledged master


After looking at all the key differences on Indian Yoga vs Western Yoga, we come to the following conclusion:

  • Clearly, the East has a different style and take on the yoga than the West
  • It is quite resonating to classify Yoga in one of the categories, i.e. Western Yoga or Indian Yoga. The mother of Yoga is one, and that is Vedas
  • The end purpose of Eastern and Western Yoga is quite same

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