Yoga has been credited with helping fight everything from depression to asthma and diabetes. It’s also a great way to keep your body toned, flexible and in general good shape. Little wonder then that this form of exercise has become so popular around the globe.

The main reason it’s become such a hit, believes Indian yoga teacher Kausthub Desikachar, is that it appeals to our desire to be independent.

Yoga really appeals to the Western mindset because a lot of people in the modern world are very independent. And in yoga nobody does the job for you, you have to do it yourself, said Desikachar, who is the grandson of Krishnamacharya, the man said to have brought yoga to the West.

So it self-empowers the individual, which I think appeals to the modern mentality.

It’s fitting then that yoga works best when tailored to each individual’s needs.

After all, Desikachar said, every person has a unique physical and mental make-up.

What we are made up of is very different. Some people are short, some people are tall, thin, fat, optimistic, pessimistic -“ all these different factors make us very unique individuals. Therefore if yoga is to work for each of us it has to be tailored so it is most effective.

Desikachar is bringing his expertise on the subject to Australia this month for a series of seminars in Melbourne focusing on the theme of Steadiness in change: yoga as the anchor.

The workshops will explore strategies to help people endure, enjoy and eventually master life’s many changes.

One of the biggest misconceptions about yoga is that it’s a physical form of exercise only. Desikachar said most of the classical texts on yoga don’t focus on the physical aspects of the practice very much at all.

It’s meant to be more of a workout for the mind. I think in those days people led a physical life -“ they had to walk and run everywhere. However, they also understood that the physical body is very important, so they did consider the physical practices of yoga too. But yoga has much more to do with the mind than with the body.

Desikachar said yoga is beneficial in maintaining general physical health as well as mental health, but is most commonly used in India to heal illnesses.

I think this is one of the biggest areas where yoga can play a fantastic role. In our centre in India about 90 percent of people are taking yoga for healing purposes -“ asthma, diabetes, depression or cardiac problems -“ all kinds of problems, be it physical, mental or emotional.

Steadiness in change: yoga as the anchor is on in Melbourne from 19 to 22 May at Eden On the Park, 6 Queens Road. For more information contact 0407 900 840 or fiona@yogapractice.com.au.

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