(Just had the following fascinating exchange on Facebook about Stefanie Syman’s upcoming book about the history of Yoga in America:)
Bob Weisenberg The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America: How exciting. Just put it on my Amazon wish list so I can get it as soon as it comes out. I was so pleased to see in the review that you start with Thoreau and his buddies. Most Yoga histories pass over this original introduction of Yoga in America.
when I was in grad school for english about a 100 yrs. ago ;), the teacher talked about Emerson’s use of the Gita
The Transcendentalists were huge promoters of Indic thought including yoga. More even than our English teachers let on 🙂
I am fascinated by this and want to learn more about it. Do either of you have any sources to recommend?
The most complete study of it is very old, like 1930s, Arthur Christy’s book: The Orient in American Transcendentalism; A Study of Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott. (NY: Octagon Books, 1969 [1932, 1960]. But there is a ton of other research and articles. I list a bunch in my selected bibliography and endnotes if you can wait.
Thanks for all the research! 🙂
it’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve read Emerson’s “Nature” but from what I can remember his idea is that nature and isvara are inseperable. http://www.gosai.com/chaitanya/saranagati/html/nmj_articles/east_west/east_west_1.html this really stirs up my brain…the Transcendentalists were rather my niche back in the day…also, did you know Mark Twain went to the Kumbh Mela?
OMG (That’s the first time I’ve ever used “OMG”. Why now I’m not sure.) Linda. It just keeps getting better and better! These were the guys I read back in college, but the Yoga connection meant nothing to me then.
There’s a lot of this Yogic “union” going on in my life right now. In addition to this link to my literature background, I’m just now discovering what a close connection there is between Yoga and flamenco. Most scholars believe the Spanish gypsies originally emigrated from northern India! And there are strong traces of that in flamenco dance and music.
Oh, and thanks for the information, Stefanie. Yes, I can wait. I’m really looking forward to your book.