How Yoga Gained Popularity in the West

How Yoga Gained Popularity in the West

With the practice of yoga sweeping the western world under its rigid feet, it’s interesting to wonder just how yoga gained popularity in the west? By exploring the history of its conception and it’s modern adaptation we find out just how yoga gained an audience of over 20 million participants in the western world.


Through Travel, Through Travel
Yoga’s adaption is speculated to have been adapted within western culture as early as the 19th century. Though this initial introduction into yoga was one that centred more upon western spiritual and religious connotations, it still retained some benefits as it allowed for positive thinking. As Indians travelled to western world and partook in this form of yoga many rejected its denouncing of yoga’s traditional roots. As time went on, a revised version of Asana emerged within the twenties and was carried out by most export yogis.  

Cultural Adaption
When wondering how yoga gained popularity in the west it is crucial to remember that yoga in western cultures largely centres on diversity. As the practice began to gather larger amounts of influence over Western culture, it was crucial to allow for as many diverse forms as possible. You can find more about the various styles of yoga here. By allowing for open expression yoga was allowing people to alter their mental framework. By allowing people to gain access to new methods of calming via poses or breathing techniques, yogis in the western world were exposed to a new form of living.


Spiritual Answer To Exercise
Though the meditative side isn’t often the focus of yoga practice within western society, the idea of being capable of tapping into the spiritual whilst pushing your body has massive appeal. In tradition, yoga focused on meditating in order to find a connection with a higher power whereas the western adaptation focused more on physicality. As western practice still touches on some spiritual connection it provides a unique opportunity through its practice. By being able to express oneself spiritually whilst being able to push your body to its limits, yoga allowed western society to tap into a side of themselves that isn’t evoked in day-to-day activites.  

It Wasn’t Always a Smooth Transition…
Whilst the overall popularity encompassing yoga is ultimately a positive thing, many have grave issues with the idea of the commercialization of yoga. Considering that yoga is a 27 billion dollar industry in America alone, testifies to the issue. Commercialization is a crucial aspect when thinking of how yoga gained popularity, as it is an issue that has threatened the credibility of the practice. As diversity and genuine interest has been promoted more with official places of practice, many yoga institutions and teachers heavily combat the issue.

 When considering how yoga gained popularity in the west it is clear to see that it wasn’t an incredibly smooth transition and was one that faced many alterations. Though it has had many shifts, it is clear to see that the western world has benefited from the practice of yoga greatly.

Back to blog