There is a "natural" convergence among yoga practitioners in Japan: Those who have practiced it primarily for slimming or health are becoming more interested in its spiritual aspects, while those who have approached it as a philosophy are more actively engaging in physical exercise, according to an experienced yoga instructor.

"When you have a dialogue with your body as a real object, you have to face yourself," Mamoru Aizawa said. "This is an awakening. Lots of people practice Ashtanga yoga early in the morning before going to work."

Ashtanga yoga is a modern form of classical Indian yoga increasingly practiced in the United States, Europe and Japan.