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Digital Subscriptions > OM Yoga Magazine > Aug-18 > A BRIEF HISTORY OF YOGA IN THE WEST


Part one: Yoga arrives: the story up until the beginning of the 20th century.

Part 1 of 5

Have you ever wondered how the yoga you practice came to be the yoga you practice?

For many years, I didn’t. I believed that yoga was thousands of years old and had been passed down from its ancient Indian masters in a pure form. When I became curious, I realised the story was not at all what I thought it was.

The appearance by Swami Vivekananda at Chicago World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893 is taken by scholars to be the point at which yoga began to gain a foothold in the West. But, in the hundred or so years before this, a fascination with all things Indian was steadily growing for intriguing reasons. At the same time, a European and American infatuation with physical culture was creating the conditions into which a yoga that emphasised postures could potentially be welcomed.

We need to start by understanding that the story of yoga in the West is essentially one of the rapid rise to dominance of postural Hatha yoga. Because it was by no means a given that this would be the form of yoga that would triumph and create the foundation for the postural yoga we love.

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About OM Yoga Magazine

Welcome to the August issue of OM Yoga & Lifestyle magazine. We hope you’re having a great summer so far. In this issue we’ve got a couple of special reports, including a look at naked yoga and why people are loving it. Are you brave enough to try it? Liberating or exhibitionist: we’d love to know your thoughts! We’ve also got a yoga for back care report inside, as well as plenty of other goodies too. For starters, we’re kicking off a new five part series - A Brief History of Yoga in the West - where you can discover how the yoga you now enjoy reached your home town all the way from India. There’s lots of practical yoga as well, including our regular 360º Yoga anatomy academy and a great sequence for a head, neck and shoulders release. There’s something for everyone in this issue to keep you inspired on and off the mat throughout the month. Happy reading!