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Ladies in Yoga: A Quick Historical past


This entry was posted on Jul 26, 2022 by Charlotte Bell.

Stroll into nearly any yoga asana class and you could discover is that the overwhelming majority of scholars are ladies. For a minimum of a few of yoga’s historical past, observe was the purview of males, and ladies had been anticipated to concentrate on residence life. However opposite to a longstanding delusion, historic proof reveals that in some circles, ladies have been yoginis all alongside.

Standard yoga lore claims that yoga’s male leaders didn’t permit ladies to observe till about 50 years in the past. There’s, the truth is, historic proof that the Vedic custom discouraged ladies from observe and didn’t permit them to turn out to be monks. However relying on the way you outline yoga, it’s not correct to say that girls couldn’t observe.

Ladies in Yoga: The Tantric Custom

In keeping with an article by Ramesh Bjonnes, titled “Ladies and Yoga: Dispelling a Fable,” ladies have practiced yoga for hundreds of years, a minimum of within the areas of India the place Tantric Yoga was prevalent. For those who take into account yoga to be greater than merely postures, and as a substitute embrace chanting, ecstatic dance and meditation—all a part of the yoga custom—ladies have been training for a really very long time.

Take into account this, from Bjonnes’s article:

“The Bauls of Bengal are ecstatic singers, dancers and meditators who’ve wandered throughout India for the reason that Center Ages. Most of the Baul ecstatics are ladies, and a few of them grew to become well-known yoginis and gurus, together with the effectively known-teachers Ananda Mai Ma, Arcanapuri Ma, and Laksmi Ma.

“The variety of feminine yoga adepts could have been significantly greater in India’s previous, nonetheless, when Tantra was extra commonplace. Yoga scholar Georg Feuerstein writes in his ebook The Yoga Custom:

“‘Allama Praphudeva [a tantric yogi from the Natha tradition] was a recent of Basava (1120-1168 CE) and the pinnacle of an order that included 300 realized practitioners, sixty of whom are stated to have been ladies.‘”

Pioneering Ladies in Yoga

Right here’s a really brief, and under no circumstances exhaustive, tribute to a few pioneering ladies whose love of yoga led them to share the observe within the early days:

  1. Blanche Devries opened the very first female-owned yoga studio within the nation. A scholar of her husband, famed (and controversial) yoga instructor Pierre Bernard, Devries started educating yoga someday after 1913. She opened her studio in New York Metropolis In 1938. She taught till 1982 and influenced film star shoppers and lots of academics who would affect the observe in later years.
  2. Indra Devi might be essentially the most well-known of the progenitors of contemporary yoga within the West. Born Eugenie Peterson in Latvia in 1899, Indra Devi grew to become entranced with India after studying a number of books on Jap philosophy. She ultimately moved to India and, after creating a coronary heart challenge, requested T. Krishnamacharya to show her. At first he refused on grounds that she was a Westerner and a lady. Finally he agreed to show her, and later supported her in her aspiration to show. In 1946 she opened a yoga college in Hollywood, CA, that attracted most of the film trade’s luminaries. Indra Devi handed away in 2002. On a private be aware, my very first yoga instructor, June Bains, was a direct scholar of Indra Devi.
  3. Lilias Folan could not have been the primary yogini within the U.S., but it surely’s controversial that she was the primary to share the advantages to the huge mainstream. Usually referred to as “The First Woman of Yoga,” Lilias taught yoga to PBS followers throughout the nation for nearly 30 years. Lilias’s present, “Lilias, Yoga and You,” started in Cincinnati in 1970. Three years later, it was picked up by PBS and broadcast nationally till 1999. Since then Lilias has written three books, together with the favored Lilias! Yoga Will get Higher with Age.

The place Do We Go Now?

Since these pioneering ladies introduced consciousness of yoga to the West, many, many extra smart, artistic feminine academics have introduced yoga to the greater than 36.7 million practitioners on this nation. Seventy-two p.c of U.S. yoga practitioners are ladies.

A few years in the past, a senior Iyengar instructor/colleague of mine remembered B.Okay.S. Iyengar expressing the opinion that girls are smarter than males. When requested about his causes for saying this, he replied. “As a result of so many extra ladies observe yoga!” Regardless of the motive for the prevalence of yoginis today, it’s inspiring to consider the place as we speak’s pioneering ladies in yoga, and people to come back, will take the observe we love.

For those who’re within the matter of girls in yoga, listed here are some articles to take a look at:

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and started educating in 1986. Charlotte is the creator of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Apply and Yoga for Meditators, each revealed by Rodmell Press. Her third ebook is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and folks sextet Crimson Rock Rondo, whose DVD gained two Emmy awards in 2010.

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