100 Years Of Yoga Through Amazing Vintage Photos (Featuring Woodstock And Marilyn Monroe)

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In the course of the past 100 years, yoga has been transformed more than ever and has become one of the most popular trends in the United States. A 2016 survey conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance revealed that over 36 million Americans practice yoga. This number was projected to reach the 55 million benchmark by 2020. In addition to that, 80 million people who had never done yoga before said they are very likely to give it a try.

As stated in the research, 65% of US yogis practice yoga at home. Home, as the most popular place for doing yoga, is followed by gyms (48%) and yoga studios (45%). With COVID still making its waves in 2022, the yoga experience has generally shifted from in-person classes to online classes. Yoga is one of the most convenient and mobile practices to try at your own place as you don’t need any special equipment (like heavy gym machines) or lots of space (like a tennis court). As long as you have a yoga mat, you are all set for your activity and spiritual journey!

Yoga was initially introduced to Americans back in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda. He brought it from India, where it was created over 5,000 years ago as a philosophy that combines movement, meditation, breathwork, and spiritual development. Since ancient times practitioners have noticed positive changes to mind, body, and spirit.

These vintage yoga photos capture yoga asanas long before the practice became spiritual and fitness mainstream and depict century-long metamorphosis.

London Olympics' athletes partner up to stretch and practice yoga techniques to get ready for the competition.

The picture is taken 90 years before Lululemon invented and sold its first pair of yoga pants in 1998.
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Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian Hindu monk, yogi, and Guru. He arrived in America in 1920 and taught Kriya Yoga, a method combining breath control, postures, and intentional use of energy.

He was the first Indian monk to be hosted in the White House of the United States.

1946 book “Autobiography of Yogi” remains a spiritual classic to this day.

Buy the "Autobiography of Yogi" on Amazon
Watch the documentary on the Guru's life on Amazon

Discover more spiritual movies and TV shows here

Vera Richardson demonstrates her bow pose aka Dhanurasana at a keep fit session.

This heart-opening backbend stretches your hip flexors and hamstrings while strengthening your back. It improves your posture by opening your chest and shoulders, if you’re among the millions of people that spend hours in front of the computer every day, then you need this yoga asana in your life.
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Credit: Weather
John Jacob Niles yoga | headstand | forearm stand | Pincha Mayurasana | learn how to do a headstand with peace inside me
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Folk singer John Jacob Niles performing a forearm stand variation to relax.

The forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasana) is a balancing inversion. This yoga pose strengthens the arms, shoulders, core, and back. Practicing it improves your balance and stimulates increased blood flow to the brain, which is known to help stress relief.

In the yoga tradition, inversions stimulate the third eye chakra, provide clarity and improve mental abilities.


American socialite, model, prima ballerina, and actress Ricki Soma arching backward as her father Tony Soma and other family members take various Yoga positions.

Tony Soma ran a famous among celebrities restaurant in Manhattan. Tony Soma became a popular New York night-life figure, also known as "Broadway Tony" and "Yoga Tony". He would greet his guests in the restaurant by standing on his head and singing.
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Credit: LIFE
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A dancer in heels relaxes in a child’s pose.

Child's pose (Balasana) is the most important restful pose in yoga that provides a gentle stretch to your back, hips, thighs, and ankles. This asana allows you to slow down, reconnect with your breath, and prepare for the upcoming sequence. It teaches you to listen to your inner voice and your body when it sends you signals that it needs some rest.
1953 & 1956

It’s hard to imagine nowadays, but these yoga teachers lead their students through mindfulness practice in a dress!

Marilyn Monroe works on her flexibility with
Indra Devi. Together, they contributed to the popularity of the yoga movement in the West.

The first evidence of the Hollywood movie star practicing yoga tracks back to 1946.

In 1948, Indra Devi, often called The First Lady of Yoga, opened the very first yoga studio in Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard.

Check out the "Yoga for Americans" book by Indra Devi (first published in 1959) on Amazon
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Credit: Andrea Alves
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Practicing yoga and meditating in Central Park, New York.

Long before you could take a yoga walk and book your yoga class in the famous park online.

Sheep Meadow is an official Quiet Zone in the iconic park, that makes it perfect for reconnecting to nature, yoga, and spiritual practice.

Spending time in nature and practicing outdoors helps replenish depleted energy and lowers the concentration of cortisol, the stress hormone.


Mexican-American Academy Award-winning actor Anthony Quinn surprises Italian actress, Valentina Cortese, with his awesome headstand.

Sirsasana, or a headstand, is one of the most difficult poses to master in yoga. This yoga position challenges the muscles of the whole body and requires skills and mental focus.
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Hippie counterculture followed by the New Age movement impacted yoga popularization and established many organizations that helped spread awareness.
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Credit: LIFE


Tom Law is meditating in the desert.


Yoga master Sri Swami Satchidananda opens the iconic Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, New York. His speech set a peaceful and harmonious mood for one of the largest gatherings in festival history.
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A couple manifesting Free Love and practicing Acroyoga naked (Hello, Nude Yoga Girl and Nudamag!) during the famous Woodstock Music Festival.

Acroyoga is a movement practice that combines the balance of yoga and the energy of acrobatics.


"Yoga Psychedelic Trip" photo series by Life Magazine photographer Ralph Morse.

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Yoga and meditation meet high fashion as the C&A model rocks a groovy knitted pantsuit from the Autumn/Winter collection.

Find more yoga and meditation outfit ideas here.
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Credit: Weather
In the 1980s and 1990s with the launch of VHS tapes and DVDs and the rise of the fitness cult, yoga became a regular practice for numerous Americans in their own homes.

Today, millions of people in America alone practice yoga, thanks to all the people in the photos above that saw the benefits of this mindfulness experience way before it was popular.

If you are ready to become a part of the global yogi community, join our inner peace online retreat and enjoy yoga flows and meditations in your cozy home or any place in the world.

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