Salt Lake City, capital of Utah settled by Mormon pioneers in 1847, is now one of the “10 fantastically yoga-friendly towns” of USA, as declared by August 2011 issue of Yoga Journal. Other nine towns on the list of this San Francisco (California) headquartered prestigious yoga magazine are: Asheville (North Carolina), Austin (Texas), Boulder (Colorado), Encinitas (California), Minneapolis (Minnesota), New Orleans (Louisiana), Portland (Oregon), Washington (District of Columbia), and Woodstock (New York).
Journal reports that Woodstock, with a population of 6,090, has six yoga studios, and yoga is part of the curriculum at some New Orleans charter schools.
Welcoming the widespread interest in yoga, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, yoga was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. One could still practice one’s respective faith and do yoga. Yoga would rather help one in achieving one’s spiritual goals in whatever religion one believed in.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that yoga, referred as “a living fossil” whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, was a mental and physical discipline handed down from one guru to next, for everybody to share and benefit from. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical. Yoga was based on an eightfold path to direct the practitioner from awareness of the external world to a focus on the inner, Zed added.
Rajan Zed argued that yoga, which never had any formal organization, was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche. Yoga had been booming in USA and there were splendid yoga studios all over the country.
According to National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. Swami Vivekananda reportedly brought yoga to USA in 1893. According to an estimate, about 16 million Americans, including many celebrities, now practice yoga.
Kaitlin Quistgaard is the Editor-in-Chief of Yoga Journal, which claims to “empower readers to make healthy lifestyle choices for their bodies and minds”, and is published by El Segundo (California) based Active Interest Media headed by Efrem Zimbalist III as CEO.