Yoga in America

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stefanie Syman tells the story of yoga’s transformation from a centuries-old spiritual discipline to a multibillion-dollar American industry. Her book The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America looks at yoga’s history in America and finds it to be longer and richer than even its most devoted practitioners realize.


Stefanie Syman

Comments [6]

Donna Davidge from NYC and Maine

I believe Bikram has patented his postures and has sued former students and won.

Aug. 20 2010 11:30 AM
Jonathan from Manhattan

I started doing yoga at New York Health and Racquet Club this year.

It’s fun. It’s more athletically geared at NYHRC, but the teachers do drop in some meditation and spiritual concepts and I’m comfortable with it.

Aside from the gym membership fees, I haven’t spent any additional money. I just wear my usual gym shorts and t-shirt. I spent plenty of money on hundred dollar running shoes and New York Road Runner race fees each year and that doesn’t make it a cult.

I’ll probably never try Bikram yoga because I can’t stand the combination heat and exercise in the first place. Also, yoga is physical activity one needs to take care not to injure themselves, this goes for all forms of sports and exercise.

I like yoga because it’s an activity I can see myself doing when I get older. No, I’m not a religious or “spiritual” person. I believe in a natural, material world, but I don’t mind the visualization techniques, I take it as metaphor and appreciate the historical and cultural background.

Aug. 19 2010 01:45 PM
Sera from Edgewater, NJ

I practiced Bikram yoga for 5.5 years and did a 30-day challenge too. It is harmful and cult-like. You get addicted to it because of the heat. The teachers give conflicting messages -- to listen to your body but also push you beyond your limits. I ended up getting an MRI and developed cervical spine injuries. Yoga, like many other things, benefit from the American consumer culture. (And no, poor people don't practice yoga! Yoga represents self-actualization, and poor people are busy surviving.

Aug. 19 2010 01:21 PM
Alex Nagel from NY

Leonard, challenge your guest! Just because I choose to subbject myself to 105 degree heat regularly, it does not mean I must be practicing with a religious devotion. People are driven to do a lot of absurdly difficult things without religion.

Aug. 19 2010 01:19 PM
samantha from Philly

Can you ask the author about the effort in india to stop the patenting of yoga poses in the US?

Aug. 19 2010 01:18 PM
ExBeau of Brainwashed from Montreal, Quebec

Yoga is a cult.

They want to control the mind of their acolytes.

Then steal their money.

Google <> and <>

Aug. 19 2010 01:12 PM

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