Yoga Poses Are Not Actually Ancient
Journalist Michelle Goldberg recently wrote a book called The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, in which she traces the origins of the contemporary practice of Yoga through Indra Devi who travelled to India in the first half of the 20th century after reading about yoga in a new-age book, 4 Lessons in Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism, by American William Walter Atkinson. Devi travelled to Mysore and befriended the Maharajah of Mysore whose yogi Krishnamacharya developed an exercise regimen for the royal children to create an outlet for their energy as they practiced yoga philosophies.
After teaching yoga in China, Devi travelled to Hollywood after the end of WWII and opened her studio where she became immediately popular with celebrities and yoga’s popularity has been strong ever since.
Ancient Hindu texts do not reference any modern yoga poses, but words that sound foreign to an English-speaking person combined with a dash of ancient philosophy create compelling mystical marketing for a fitness routine. It’s the old argument from antiquity at work. The moral of the story is: Ancient doesn’t mean better, and even if it did, “yoga,” as you would see it in a modern studio, isn’t even ancient.