America's Relationship with Yoga

Submitted by Jerry Parker on December 21, 2012

Yoga was first taken to west – by all-popular and reliably accounts – by Swami Vivekananda during the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. His rousing speech, starting with the words, “My brothers and sisters of America……….” Unheard of and even unimagined by most in that day and age stirred up hundreds at the gathering.

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Subsequently the wave of emotion spread and India – and together with it Yoga, Hinduism, spirituality and other things Indian – came to be accepted in the west.

Then came the famous: Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda Paramahansa, originally published in 1946 and made popular after the Yogananda's death in 1952. Altogether, the book has sold more than a million copies and has been translated into over 19 languages. Quite natural that Hinduism, Yoga and the popularity of Indian spirituality grow.


Subsequently a number – uncountable, actually – of Indian mystics, teachers and Yogis visited America on request and settled down there.

Names such as J. Krishnamurti, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, B.K.S. Iyengar, Swami Vishnu Devananda, Swami Chinmayananda, Mata Amritanandamayi, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Pattabhi Jois, Master Osho, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sri Yogendra, the Ramakrishna Mission sadhus and sanyasins, like those of the Hare Rama, Hare Krishna Mission are common to the west. As a result hundreds of Yoga ashramas, studios and centers started sprouting up in the west, particularly in America.

Today, if you are American, you don’t really have to visit India to learn Hinduism, Bhakti, Yoga or Indian spirituality. They are all available at your doorstep. Why, even the Pavitra (holy) water of the Ganges, it is said, is being exported on a daily basis to the west – again America, in particular – to quench the thirst of passionate devotees. Jut browse the Internet and you are bound to come up with an almost unending list of American ashrams that teach Yoga, meditation, Indian spirituality, Hinduism and all sorts of things Indian.

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