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Is Western yoga practice off-balance?

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a campaign to revitalize yoga in the land where it was born
Why Indians say Americans are doing yoga wrong 04:45

When it comes to India and yoga, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is no poseur. Modi is on a campaign to revitalize yoga in the land where it was born, and that starts with his soldiers who practice yoga to improve mind and body control.

In India, proper yoga starts with a cleansing of the sinuses and finishes with group snorting -- something Americans might not recognize in their yoga routine, reports CBS News correspondent Major Garrett.

Inside India's Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, instruction is strict. Breathing and meditation takes place on simple mats along with very precise poses. Indian yoga emphasizes all four components: cleansing, breathing, meditating and posing. And the prime minister is an evangelist.

"It is not about exercise, but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature," Modi said.

Modi has called for an international yoga day and appointed a chief of spiritual health.

"It is not only for Indian people or India. But we can contribute a lot in health sector by introducing yoga, giving you a better way of life to the world," said Shripad Naik, India's so-called yoga minister.

Major Garrett practicing some #yoga this morning. Namaste, Major.

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But Indian yoga leaves Nicole Lastova, a transplant from northern Virginia, cold. Lastova teaches yoga at the American embassy in New Delhi and has found the Spartan Indian yoga, and studying with its masters, surprisingly stressful.

"There's no yoga fashion. I felt a bit self-conscious when I go to class here," Lastova said. "There's definitely a strictness. You listen to your teacher... whereas at my studio in America it was just a lot more love when the teacher touched you, a lot more warmth."

Lastova loves American yoga and is far from alone. More than 20 million Americans practice yoga. It's an exercise industry worth more than $10 billion annually. Lastova said Indian yoga simply would not translate in America.

"You pose and stop and pose and stop," she said. "That's probably the biggest difference -- the freedom of expression in each pose."

India's yoga minister counters that Americans treat yoga as a workout, while Indians seek something deeper.

Naik said the technique is what brings the benefits, and with the wrong technique, there are no benefits.

Perhaps in deciding the true benefits of Indian or American yoga, where you stand, depends on how you sit.

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