Histories of yoga in America often begin in earnest with the 1960s, when it’s imagined that loosened immigration legal guidelines allowed swamis and gurus to return from India in giant numbers and discover a receptive viewers with the seekers of the hippie counterculture. But yoga loved a strong and vibrant presence in the United States as early because the late 19th century. In reality, dozens of academics with exceptional backgrounds taught yoga in the early 20th century, they usually upend a lot of what we might assume about yoga and early yoga academics in America.
There was little consensus on the time about what “yoga” meant. Encompassing philosophy, psychology, fortune-telling, diet, bodily exercise, and magic, training yoga might imply something from respiration exercises and postures to visualization and the event of psychic powers. With few South Asians current and meager information about India, many individuals, together with numerous Indian immigrants of varied backgrounds who labored across the discriminatory legal guidelines and insurance policies of the day, discovered it straightforward to reinvent themselves as Indian yogis and religious academics in the U.S. For probably the most half they travelled throughout the nation from one metropolis to the subsequent giving public lectures and smaller personal programs of instruction to college students. Often, these lectures and courses led to one-on-one periods between instructor and scholar that took the type of the whole lot from counseling and therapeutic to fortune-telling and psychic readings.
As extra consideration is being given to the primary chapters of American yoga’s historical past, biographies of a number of early academics comparable to Pierre Bernard (AKA the Omnipotent Oom) and Indra Devi have been written in current years. But there are numerous different exceptional academics from this era value understanding. Here are seven with tales you’ll need to learn.
About Our Expert
Philip Deslippe is a doctoral scholar in the Department of Religious Studies on the University of California Santa Barbara. More at philipdeslippe.com