Indians view of American’s yoga

I found this really great website called “yoga journal” and it includes all different aspects of yoga including poses, basics, the practice, wisdom, health, lifestyle, teachers, blogs, videos, newsletters and a live magazine. It is really great and includes so much information and blog posts from different yogis. After reading how different yoga is in the U.S. compared to how yoga traditionally is and in India, it made me feel like I was practicing something fake and insulting traditional yogis. I want to be able to practice it traditionally because I think that it’s how I view yoga. I found this really great articled called “Out Of India” by a women, Marina Budhos, who is an Indian living in America and writes about how people of Indian descent think of Americans enthusiastically using their culture.  Through out the paper she is saying that Americans love embracing being Indian and thinks they are practicing yoga when they do this. She said that when she does yoga practices in the U.S. that the teachers are making it more likeable for the people practicing and making it more American by taking out chanting and pictures of deities. Although she doesn’t like how Westerns think they are being Indian when they practice yoga and do things that Indians do, she makes a good and less judgmental point by saying yoga has become part of American culture.  Yoga has now become such a big part of many Americans lives and it seems like everyday you are reminded of something that is part of a yogi’s life. Throughout Indian culture being embraced by the West, there has been many Indians who have immigrated to the U.S. and in the last decade the South Asian population has doubled to 1.7 million. Although there are many South Asians now, yoga in the U.S. is primarily includes white people and Marina said she has never seen another South Asian in a class with her. An interesting quote I found from her is, “for many Westerners, yoga is India. For Indians, yoga is only part of the story.” Many Americans are very narrow minded about what yoga includes.


Yoga started to become a mix of practices in the 19th century since India was under British rule. Practices were passed down orally and were different by region, caste, and class. In the 20th century a new Indian middle class emerged that had more English speaking Indians that were more Westernized and viewed yoga as an old, superstitious, ancient tradition. A lot of these people worked for the Indian Civil Service (ICS) or British companies so they wanted to become more Westernized to succeed in their processions. Sanjya Nigma had many relatives who worked in the ICS and moved to the U.S. when she he was 6. He said he thought of yoga as something that only young and old people did and said

“ ‘they worried that if someone did it, they would get off track, drop out of school.’ Tripti Bose, a former psychotherapist who came to the United States in the 1960s, remarks, “Because of colonization we were brainwashed that yoga was superstition, not something that you can scientifically rely on. Anybody who talked about yoga was looked at kind of funny. In India, if somebody did yoga, they would ask, ŒWho is this weird person?’ “.

People who moved from India to the U.S. said the difference they saw was that in India yoga was more spiritual, and had to do with life itself, but in the U.S. there was more concrete meaning. Siddharth Dube, Basanth Kumar’s son, grew up in India practicing yoga, and went to a house in Wisconsin with all avid yogis. He was horrified to see different machines and equipment. He said people focus too much on the perfection and put too much stress on it, acting like it’s a workout.


After reading all these negative views and Indians bad perception of yoga in the U.S. I got very disappointed on it’s practice here and mine. Something that made me feel better about it was that many Indian Americans have actually started practicing yoga in the U.S. because of its boom. A psychotherapist, Tripiti Bose, wastired of traditional psychotherapy and its limits so was drawn to yoga from other Westerns and their view of it being useful for mediation. I really liked her quote, ‘When many of us have a problem, we think we can get rid of it totally–when instead we have to learn to live with it. My practice began to shift to help people accept things.’ Indians in the U.S. have become more integrated into American culture. Some may say that it is for the worse and others for the better.



Budhos, Marina. “Out of India.” Yoga Journal. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <>.


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