East to West

Famous Yoga Followers

Albert Einstein

Carl Jung, Mohandas Gandhi, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Aldous Huxley, Herman Hesse, Heinrich Himmler, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Albert Einstein all read or were familiar with the Bhagavad Gita.

George Harrison

George Harrison learned to play Indian sitar and used a lot of that sound for the music he created. What most people don't know is that Harrison was exposed to Indian music only after becoming fascinated with Indian philosophy.


She is one among many celebrity women who has credited her fitness to Yoga. Madonna has said her favorite type of Yoga is Bikram, which is practiced in a room set at 110 degrees Farenheit.

  • 1893

    Vivekananda spoke at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. His message was that the world's religions are various phases of one eternal religion and that spiritual essence could be transmitted from one person to another.

  • 1920

    Paramahansa Yogananda came to speak about yoga to a conference of religious people in Boston.

  • 1924

    The U.S. imposes a quota on Indian immigration, which forces Americans to travel East in order to seek teachings and practice yoga.

  • 1946

    Paramahansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi is released. The book is a classic that still is viewed as a main book to read.

  • 1947

    Theos Bernard's book Hatha Yoga: The Report of a Personal Experience is published. This author was one who went East to explore yoga. His book was largely used as a source in the 1950s and is still read today.

  • 1950s

    Indra Devi opens a Yoga studio in Hollywood, and writes books that take Yoga into the households of people across the U.S. Her teacher, Sri Krishnamacharya, is the man known as the grandfather of American Yoga.

  • 1961

    Richard Hittleman launched Yoga to television, and in many ways pioneered the way Yoga was taught. He focused on the physical benefits of Yoga for the American mainstream.

  • 1960s

    Swami Vishnu-devananda founded the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, which is one of the largest networks of Yoga schools in the world and headquartered in Montreal.

  • 1965

    The Indian U.S. Immigration law that was imposed in 1924 was lifted. A new wave of Easterners came in, further influencing the practice and impact of Yoga, especially on the youth.

  • 1966

    B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga was published in America. This book is considered an important resource, and was influential on Yoga teacher of the West. This is because of Inyegar's emphasis on anatomical precision when practicing poses.

  • 1970s

    Yoga reaches it's closest to a mainstream level as ashrams opened in various states, including Virginia. Even influential University professors, Harvard's Richard Alpert, were becoming part of the experience of Yoga. Alpert for example, returned from his Indian pilgrimage returned with a different name and with a guru. He did a college tour of his book, Be Here Now.