Isha Yoga in Beirut’s Badaro neighborhood. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Although the growth in yoga's popularity shows no signs of slowing, several instructors told The Daily Star that its mainstreaming still faced obstacles among people who fear that some parts of the practice -- ritual chants, for instance -- may be an affront to religious tradition.Soon she returned to her native Lebanon, and three years ago she started Sarvam from scratch.At the time, she said, the yoga scene in Beirut looked very different from today. Other yoga teachers in Beirut recalled a similar sentiment surrounding the practice at the time.Yoga has also spread beyond the studios into regular gyms, where many people are exposed to it totally divorced from the spiritual aspect.Atmeh agreed that while some of her students were interested in the spiritual side of the practice, most were interested in the health and well-being that yoga promotes.With free events and yoga festivals drawing crowds of up to 400 people and studios of all sizes sprouting up around Beirut, local instructors said they were confident about the practice's future in the country.
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