Articles

THE MASTERMINDS

INDIA TODAY INTERNATIONAL, MARCH 8, 2004

In the late 1960's, a curious American generation discovered yoga while chasing its love for eastern spirituality. Three decades later it has turned out to be much more than a fad. WIth one in fifteen Americans practicing yoga, it has become a part and parcel of the social milieu - much more than the iconic endorsements by Abdul Kareem Jabbar, pop star Madonna and rock star Sting. The very generation that brought yoga to America is now, as gurus, inspiring a social revolution. Not just in the country, but globally too. They have assimilated the ancient art form into the modern American fitness lexicon. In the process, they have shorn off the rough edges of yoga that have prevented mass appeal. While Bikram Choudhury and Aadil Palkhivala continue to retain a strong niche, a generation of western gurus is leaving its imprimatur on modern practice, whether it is Richard Freeman in Colorado, Mark Whitwell in Los Angeles or the New York-based Kundalini maestro with the assumed name of Ravi Singh.

What's more, it is now beginning to occupy the mindspace of the Indian Diaspora, many of whom are taking to yoga under the tutelage of the New Age gurus from the West. In New York there is Mira Nair who learns from James Murphy; fashion designer Meera Gandhi too has an American yoga instructor who comes to her upper-East town house to impart daily yoga lessons.