Throughout yoga’s recent history in the western world, we have seen it evolve in many different ways. It’s become a well known and normal part of this culture for over the last 120 years, first being introduced to yoga and it’s concepts by Swami Vivekananda in the late 1800s. Other influential teachers such as Parmahansa Yoganada followed to pave the way from the East sharing their enlightenment & wisdom. Up until America imposed a quota on immigration in 1924.
This ban quickly influenced people from the west to travel to the east, to seek knowledge, history, and enlightenment. Indra Devi & Richard Hittleman we’re some of the American pioneers that brought yoga to the west. Within a short time, throughout the 20th-century yoga has become well known and practiced by over 30 million people across the United States today.
Yoga holds a different meaning for each of us: for some, it is simply a workout or a sport, and for others it’s more spiritual. Sometimes people find yoga or in other instances, yoga may find us. It has a unique and individual effect on each practitioner.
Over time the roots of yoga and how it came to be here have been undoubtedly overshadowed. Bringing along new elements to the mat. Maybe we have begun to equate our enlightenment with our level of physical flexibility comparing our ability to those around us. Perhaps it allowed social media to implant an unrealistic image of what we must look like or be like to participate in the practice of yoga or call oneself a yogini or yogi.
With this awareness, it brings an opportunity to invite ourselves to sit quietly, to see our intentions, to be mindful of our own individual journeys. Honoring that where we are in our journey or practice is where we are supposed to be in that moment. And although we are unable to recreate the thousands of years of history that yoga in East holds before us, we individually and within our communities can continue to have reverence for that history and be a positive part of the evolution of yoga in the west.