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When Did Yoga Become Popular In The Us

After The Second World War

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In 1948, Indra Devi, a pupil of the modern yoga pioneer Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, opened her Hollywood yoga studio, teaching asanas to celebrities such as the actress Gloria Swanson. The effect was to make yoga glamorous and acceptable, especially to women. The Indian yoga guru and peace activist Swami Vishnudevananda came to San Francisco in 1958, going on to found the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres worldwide, with its headquarters in Montreal, Canada. His The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga was the first major illustrated guide, showing and describing some 90 yoga asanas and numerous variations in 146 monochrome plates, many of them full-page.

Yoga for Americans

Richard Hittleman launched his yoga television show, Yoga for Health, in 1961, enabling him to sell millions of copies of his books on yoga. He carefully minimised yoga’s esoteric aspects such as kundalini and the subtle body, though personally he believed the goal of yoga was indeed “pure bliss consciousness“. Both the show and the books presented yoga to a wide audience across the United States. Other yoga television shows followed, including Lilias Folan‘s WCET series Lilias, Yoga and You!, which ran from the 1970s to the 1990s, helping to make yoga acceptable to the public throughout the country.

Hippie And New Age Movements Popularize Yoga

Starting in the early-1960s, several Americans such as Richard Hittleman and Lilias Folan used television to present approachable and practical forms of yoga to a wide audience. Later in the decade, members of the hippie counterculture and New Age movement further popularized yoga and founded many of the institutions that allowed for its continued growth.


Today, yoga in America is a pervasive billion-dollar industry practiced by tens of millions of people and found in tens of thousands of studios across the country. While the global spread and popularity of yoga is not solely due to American efforts, the history of yoga in the United States doubtlessly played a crucial role in its spread.

For his part, yoga as a physical practice of getting into peak shape and contorting through postures on matts would be a phenomenon that Swami Vivekananda would be slow to recognize. But yoga as an influential cultural form that is embraced by the West while reflecting positively on India is something that Vivekananda would undoubtedly be quick to applaud.

Yoga In The United States

Yoga in the United States has a long history, foreshadowed in the 19th century by the philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose poem “Brahma” is a statement of the Hindu philosophy behind yoga, and Henry David Thoreau, and starting in earnest with the Hindu leader Vivekananda‘s visit from India in 1893 he presented yoga as a spiritual path without postures , very different from modern yoga as exercise. Two other early figures, however, the women’s rights advocate Ida C. Craddock and the businessman and occultist Pierre Bernard, created their own interpretations of yoga, based on tantra and oriented to physical pleasure.

The practice of yoga as consisting mainly of physical postures began in 1919 when the pioneer of asana-based yoga, Yogendra, brought his system, influenced by physical culture, to the United States. From 1948, Indra Devi, a pupil of Krishnamacharya, brought yoga to public attention by teaching celebrity pupils in her Hollywood studio. A large variety of asana systems evolved, including the precise Iyengar Yoga and Pattabhi Jois‘s energetic Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and its Power Yoga spinoffs. Spiritual styles also flourished, including Transcendental Meditation and Integral Yoga. Despite this, American yoga has largely detached from its religious roots, becoming part of the cosmopolitan “global popular”.

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Why Is Yoga Becoming So Popular

There are many reasons why yoga is becoming popular today. One thing is, your body is like a barometer, it makes you realize some fundamental facts about yourself. If you know how to watch it, it tells you everything about yourself. Not the fancy things that you think, but the real facts. Your mind is too deceptive every day it says something different, but if you know how to read the body, it tells you everything just the way it is, your past, present and future. That is why fundamental yoga starts with the body.

Yoga is the only system that has lived for over 15,000 years without any papacy or enforcement. Nowhere in the history of humanity has it happened that somebody put a sword to someone’s neck and said, “You must do yoga.” It has survived and lived on because it has worked as a process of wellbeing like nothing else. Even though today it is being taught in a very rudimentary or even distorted way, it still endures. Many things come and go with changing fashions, but yoga has survived for thousands of years, and it is still picking up momentum.

Another reason is that people — young or old — are stressed like never before. People are anxious and neurotic, and whatever methods they employ to handle their internal turmoil, like dancing, going for a drive or climbing a mountain, has worked to some extent, but has not given them a solution. Looking towards yoga is a natural progression.

Yoga is Not an Exercise

Can We Take Bath After Yoga

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It also drains away essential energy that was built in your body during the yoga routine. So it is essential that you wait to take a bath after a yoga session. … Having a hot or cold water bath disrupts the temperature of the body from the normal and making it tougher for the effects of yoga to take place.


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Paramahansa Yogananda Wrote The First Modern Spiritual Classic

In 1920, Paramahansa Yogananda addressed a conference of religious liberals in Boston. He was sent by his guru, the ageless Babaji, to spread the message of kriya yoga to the West.

Although his early works had unpromising titles like Recharging Your Business Battery out of the Cosmos, his 1946 Autobiography of a Yogi remains a spiritual classic.

Richard Hittleman Introduces Yoga To Middle America

Up until this point in time, yogas progress in the United States focused on the coastal cities, where people were seemingly more open to new concepts and readily accepting of drastically different ways of treating spirituality and lifestyle choices.

An unlikely believer in yoga and its beneficial qualities took up the responsibility of bringing it to the people living in Americas heartlands. He went by the name of Richard Hittleman. After studying yoga in India for several years, he came back to the USA. He started up his own yoga school, emphasizing the physical aspects and benefits of yoga while leaving out the spiritual components almost entirely.


The reason behind this was not any lack of spirituality on his part he strongly believed in yogas spiritual and esoteric elements but this perhaps made for a more palatable form of yoga to a still mostly religious American audience.

He hoped that with time and as people grew to understand and appreciate yoga, they would gradually become interested in its spiritual side, which involved meditation and yoga philosophy.

With this approach, Hittleman can be said to have revolutionized the way yoga is taught and practiced in the United States from his time moving on since. Yoga practice can have as little or as much mental or spiritual engagement as youre comfortable with as a student, which allows it to reach much wider audiences.

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Bks Iyengar Influences How We View Anatomy

In 1966 B.K.S. Iyengars Light on Yoga was published in the United States, a book that is still considered to be the Bible of serious asana practice. In 1973, Iyengar was invited to Ann Arbor, Michigan to teach by Mary Palmer . Nearly every Western teacher has been influenced by his emphasis on anatomical precision, many without even knowing it.


The Shift From Literature To Practice

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While the intellectual fascination was a great starting point, it wasnt quite enough to merit a countrywide yogic revolution. It seemed that the physical presence of a teacher was necessary to shift the American people from theory to practice.

This teacher took the shape of Swami Vivekananda, a monk of 30, who traveled to America to give a speech at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. There are two things you should know about this famous speech

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How Is Yoga Practiced In The West

In the West, yoga is often viewed as another task to fit into a busy day, something that fits in before or after life takes place. In the East, there is no making time to practice its a continuous flow, from sunrise to sunset. Get a free guided meditation plus weekly mindfulness updates from Higher Self Yoga!

What Are The Health Benefits Of Yoga

9 Benefits of Yoga


  • Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility. …
  • Yoga helps with back pain relief. …
  • Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms. …
  • Yoga benefits heart health. …
  • Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better. …
  • Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods. …
  • Yoga helps you manage stress. …
  • Yoga connects you with a supportive community.

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What Does Namaste Mean

The topic the meaning of the greeting namaste was in the news this week. If you take a yoga class in the U.S., the teacher will most likely say namaste at the end of the practice. Its a Sanskrit phrase that means I bow to you. You place hands together at the heart, close your eyes and bow.

Swami Kuvalayananda Establishes The Kaivalyadhama Health And Research Institute

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Most credit usually goes to making physical or hatha yoga a viable, widely accepted complement to traditional yogic philosophy in India is Swami Kuvalayananda. A disciple of the guru Paramahamsa Madhavadasaji, he was a research scientist, teacher, and accomplished yogi whose contribution to yoga development was his popularization of a new yoga style that emphasized physicality.

His establishment of the Kaivalyadhama Health and Yoga Research Center in India was connected to his efforts to popularize this physically-oriented yoga style. It was an extension of his efforts to develop and disseminate a sound, scientific understanding of yoga practices and how they work to affect our bodies positively.

This stated objective of employing natural laws and universal principles to the study of yoga helped convince many people, including established Western scientists, regarding the effectiveness of physical yoga and its importance in yoga traditions.


Another lasting legacy Swami Kuvalayananda left behind is the Yoga Mimamsa, a scientific journal dedicated to reporting progress in the scientific investigation of yoga. This quarterly journal has been in print since its inception in 1924. It continues to publish test results on the effects and physiological ramifications of asanas, bandhas, kriyas, pranayama, and other yoga elements on the human mind and body.

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Indra Devi Opened A Yoga Studio In California

That same year, Indra Devi opened a yoga studio in Hollywood. Her three popular books had housewives from New Jersey to Texas standing on their heads in their bedrooms.

She was the first Westerner to study with Sri Krishnamacharya and the first to bring his lineage to the West. Sri Krishnamacharya went on to become the grandfather of American yoga his students included B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and T.K.V. Desikachar.

Yoga Is Not An Exercise

Editors Note: Check out the 5-minute Yoga Tools for Transformation simple upa-yoga practices for joy, peace, wellbeing, success and more. You can also , or join or host a workshop, or train to become a facilitator for the practices.

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Americans Begin Travelling To India

During this period, three influential figures traveled to India and were incredibly important in promoting yoga in mainstream America. The first was Indra Devi, a Russian-born enthusiast who later became known as The First Lady of Yoga in America. She went to India in 1927 to learn about yoga and following her time there, proceeded to teach it globally.

She opened schools in China, taught yoga in the Kremlin, Bulgaria, Argentina, and Mexico until she returned to America in the 1950s. She opened a yoga studio in Hollywood in 1957, and that is perhaps the most significant event that catapulted the glamorous image of yoga.

Devi promised that practicing yoga would defend against aging and illness. Naturally, Los Angeles is the perfect place to link yoga to beauty. In no time, it started garnering the attention of American housewives and top stars including Gloria Swanson.

The second influential figure to go to India after the immigration restrictions were Theos Bernard. He was the nephew of the famous Pierre Bernard who was well known for teaching tantric and hatha yoga to the rich and famous of Long Island. Theos Bernard went to India in the 1930s to study with Yogendra. He returned some years later and enrolled at Columbia University to get a masters degree in Eastern studies.

Where Is Yoga Practiced The Most

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More than half of 200 million yoga practitioners worldwide are from India, according to a 2017 research on yoga statistics in India. There are over 10,000 yoga teachers in the UK. 28% of Americans have tried practicing yoga in their lives. 89% of people yogis in the US practice yoga an average of 1-5 hours per day.

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Transcendental Meditation Spread Across America

Meditation and yoga exploded across America in the early 60s, when an unassuming-looking yogi came out of the Himalayas to spiritually regenerate the world. Maharishi Mahesh Yogis Transcendental Meditation empire now claims 40,000 teachers and more than four million practitioners, with 1,200 centers in 108 countries.

How Is Yoga Related To Spirituality

Although yoga is not a religion, this ancient practice can have an affect on a person in a spiritual sense because of the seven spiritual laws that yoga students are taught to follow. Yoga emphasizes the importance of regular meditation because of the way that it helps a person to keep their thoughts positive.

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A Look At The Benefits All These New Yogis Can Enjoy

Three out of four Americans believe that yoga is good for you, and medical science backs them up: Yoga has been shown to improve health. Several studies have found that yoga can help improve cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, balance, and overall quality of life and it can even reduce stress, anxiety, and pain. In addition, people who do yoga are 20% more likely to have a positive image of their own physical and mental health, including a stronger sense of mental clarity, physical fitness, flexibility, and strength.

Yoga can usher you towards a healthier lifestyle as well. The survey found that people who do yoga are far more physically active than those who dont 75% of yogis participate in sports or other fitness activities. Yoga practitioners are also more likely to live green and eat sustainably. This is consistent with results from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, which found that yoga motivated nearly two-thirds of people to exercise more and 40% of people to eat healthier. Of course, its possible that people drawn to yoga may be more likely to be more active already. But yoga has been shown to improve physical and mental health and overall quality of life in those who are new to yoga and are not typically physically active.

Yoga: How Did It Conquer The World And What’s Changed

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Millions of people around the world have rolled out their yoga mats to celebrate a tradition that was once the preserve of Hindu holy men but is now a worldwide phenomenon.

Practitioners in more than 100 countries have planned events this week to celebrate the third International Yoga Day, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi convinced the UN to declare in 2015.

Since coming to power in 2014, the Hindu nationalist leader has led efforts to promote yoga, which he practises daily, as an important part of India’s history and culture.

“Many countries which do not know our language, tradition, or culture, are now connecting to India through yoga,” Mr Modi told a crowd of tens of thousands in the city of Lucknow, where he performed poses.

And while some critics say Mr Modi’s yoga push is part of a wider political agenda, there is little doubt that he is correct in saying yoga is one of the country’s most significant cultural exports.

But how did yoga spread, and do the poses that people perform in studios and gyms the world over accurately represent the Indian tradition?

From beer yoga to nude yoga and dog yoga – some novel variations on the practice found overseas baffle Indian yoga researchers.

“But how many people know exactly what yoga is?” asks Dr Manmath Gharote, director of the Lonavla Yoga Institute, located south-east of Mumbai. “Integration of personality is the prime aim of yoga.”

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