As practiced and taught in the West, yoga is most typically seen as a gentle way to strengthen and tone the body as well as calm the mind and spirit. However, yoga as traditionally practiced in India and other parts of Asia is a complicated system of exercise, diet and meditation tied to specific philosophy or religion. Schools in the United States range from those that emphasize yoga as a form of exercise to those who seek to connect students with yoga’s more medical or spiritual aspects. Yoga comes out of the same folk medicine, religious and philosophical roots as Ayurvedic medicine, a 5,000 year-old tradition that many claim is the basis for most of the Asian systems of natural medicine.

There are literally hundreds of styles of yoga, and each emphasizes a slightly different approach. Hatha Yoga is one of the most common styles taught in the US, but there are many variations on this traditional approach.
working with special needs groups, such as pregnant women, cancer patients or handicapped students.


Modified movements may be required during pregnancy or with existing conditions that require specialized care. A yoga specialist can recommend appropriate adjustments for a yoga program. Animals do yoga poses naturally. Stretching animals using these same techniques gives the same benefits as yoga practice.


Generally, yoga teachers are seen as physical trainers and any regulation would fall under that classification. Some yoga teachers may also be bodyworkers, performing massage on their clients. In this case, they may be required to follow the licensing laws applied to massage therapists in their state.