Guest contributor: Fitness Coach Noam Tamir, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and President of Flex4Fitness Inc.

Question for Noam: The spa has an enormous amount of Eastern influence: acupuncture, Ayurveda, countless massage techniques, etc. How is Eastern philosophy influencing our fitness routines?

The incorporation of energy flow or chi in the Western fitness field has created a bond between Eastern spiritualism and Western science and technology. It has been an ancient belief that energy is the link between the mind and body. Nurturing of both our mental as well as our physical well-being through exercise has provided better results than either one by itself. This union of previously competing ideologies partly explains the popularity of Eastern approaches to fitness, such as Yoga and Tai Chi. Some techniques such as Transcendental Yoga have a more meditative approach while Ashtanga Yoga is more fast-paced and physically demanding. There is a program for everyone from casual beginners to more experienced challenge-seekers in all age groups.

Yoga’s Westward journey.

Two of the more notable examples of the osmosis of Yoga from Western to Eastern cultures is the creation of Jivamukti Yoga and Moksha Hot Yoga. Jivamukti Yoga was developed by David Life and Sharon Gannon in New York City in 1989. This style blends vigorous Vinyasa (general yoga) practice with spiritual teachings, chanting, and an emphasis on how to bring yoga’s philosophy into daily life. Moksha Hot Yoga was founded in Toronto, Canada in 2004 by yoga teachers Ted Grant and Jessica Robertson. Moksha has strict “green” standards for keeping their studios environmentally friendly, including using sustainable building materials and natural cleansers. They are also committed to offering weekly low-cost classes. These two types of Yoga are at the forefront in current popularity. They are also great examples of how western culture has taken eastern philosophy and added a western twist to it.

Prevention over treatment.

Detoxification through the reversal of blood flow, massaging of organs, the harnessing of energy and the lubrication of joints, ligaments and tendons are just a few of the benefits of Eastern philosophy’s proactive approach to wellness. The increased attention to prevention over treatment has assisted in Western advancement in the field of fitness as well as medicine. Not only has the general public benefited from these preventative techniques, but athletes of all disciplines are including these styles of exercise into their cross training routines with improved results.

Fitness as a way of life.

Eastern philosophy focuses on fitness and balanced energy as a way of life, not just a part-time recreational activity. Eastern influence has added a needed element to complement the advances in Western fitness science and technology. Perhaps this synergy between Eastern and Western philosophies can eventually take two hemispheres and produce a single, healthy world with the full spectrum of wellness tools at their disposal. Separation does not breed progress, unification does. We must break down the wall, so to speak, and unite energy, spirituality, science and technology. That’s our final frontier.

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