TTY 2013: Yoga in America

Yoga in America

This week we will be examining the migration of yoga from India to America in the past century. In 1893 Swami Vivekananda electrified the attendees at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, Illinois with his portrayal of Hinduism as “the religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.” Acclaimed as most popular and influential member of the parliament by newspapers across the continent, Vivekananda embarked on a speaking tour in America and Europe. He disparaged the physical practice of asana, telling fascinated listeners “you are not your body” and that the true purpose of yoga was to “realize God.” But during the 1960’s a huge wave of young American hippies followed the Beatles to India, bringing a wide variety of paraphernalia, practices and teachings home with them. Back in America, the practice of physical asana proved to be one of the most enduring and popular exports from India, exploding into a multi-billion dollar industry in the marketplace of the west.

Required Assignments:

READ “How Yoga Won the West“, a New York Times opinion piece by Ann Louise Bardach.

READ “The New Yoga“, a Yoga Journal article by Anne Cushman.

CONTEMPLATE  the following two questions in light of what you have learned in this class. Come prepared to share your answers in next week’s class!

  • How would you describe the differences between contemporary yoga in America and pre-modern yoga in India to someone new to yogic practice?
  • Do you think that the contemporary practice of yoga in America should change in any way? If so, how?


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