**Yoga In The 21st Century: Adapting An Ancient Practice To Modern Bodies**

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Yoga studios have proliferated, offering diverse experiences ranging from modern oases with light therapy to traditional shalas adorned with Hindu deities. However, the question arises: how can 21st century bodies adapt an ancient practice designed for a vastly different lifestyle?

**Historical Perspective**

In 2700 BCE, early yoga practitioners were predominantly young men with lifestyles significantly different from today’s population. “If we look at the origins of yoga asana, it was not mostly women,” says physical therapist and yoga teacher Lara Heimann. “Their lifestyle was probably significantly different than our lifestyle today.”

**Functional Movement**

Heimann advocates for functional movement in yoga, prioritizing movements that complement daily life. “Functional movement has the specific intention of carryover in your daily life,” she explains. Activities like laundry-folding and sleeping do not typically involve intricate yoga poses like crow pose or back bends.

**The Role of Core Strength**

Heimann emphasizes the importance of core strength as it is central to most daily movements. “The core and the neutral spine should always be elongated and supported,” she says. Strengthening the core in asanas such as downward dog and chair pose enhances the ease and efficiency of everyday tasks.

**Adjusting Traditional Poses**

Traditional yoga poses may require modifications to suit modern anatomy. For example, in Warrior I, Yee suggests adjusting the hip alignment to alleviate strain on the lower back and inner knee. “Women’s hips are naturally a little bit wider, and they’re a little bit more internally rotated,” she says.

**Listening to Your Body**

Practitioners are encouraged to be inquisitive and listen to their bodies. “If your anatomy kicks back against something, listen,” says Yee. “Only pop into that hammy stretch if it’s going to spark joy for your muscles, ligaments, and bones in the long-run.”


Yoga continues to evolve, mirroring the changing needs of the population. By embracing functional movement, strengthening the core, adjusting traditional poses, and listening to our bodies, we can adapt this ancient practice to empower our modern lives.

Additional Considerations

  • Duration and Frequency: While yoga is often practiced in 60-minute sessions, the duration and frequency can vary based on individual needs and preferences.
  • Restorative Poses: In addition to functional movements, incorporating restorative poses can help balance the demands of modern life and promote relaxation.
  • Mind-Body Connection: Yoga encompasses both physical and mental aspects, facilitating stress reduction and inner peace.

Credit and rights belong to OMG I Yoga

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