The Buddhist monks are practicing it. So are the models, the musicians and the mums. Yoga has transformed itself from a simple spiritual practice into one of the most important fitness phenomen of all time. Here’s how this discipline emerged in the East and made its way to the North, South and West.
2,500 – 2,000 BC – The period in which people in the Hindu Valley are believed to have started practicing yoga, information based on an artefact from that period: a rock engraved with the figure of a man in the lotus position.
3.500 – The approximate age of Rig Veda, the oldest of the four sacred Hindu texts known as the Vedas, in which yoga was first mentioned.
XIV Century – Hatha Yoga Prapadipika was written and Hatha Yoga, which harmonizes the body, became popular.
7 – The number of main chakras or energy centres in the body between which the energy circulates vertically, from the base of the spine to the top of the head.
1849 – The year when Henry David Thoreau wrote in a letter to a friend, “Sometimes I’m even a yogi,” a statement that turned him into one of the first Western yoga practitioners.
1883 – The year when the first Hindu cleric began teaching yoga in the United States, right in the tavern of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s widow.
1965 – The year when the Beatles members filmed a part of the Help movie! in the Bahamas. There, they met Swami Vishnu-Devanda, the founder of Sivananda Yoga Centers, and who gave the singers the book The Illustrated Book of Yoga. This album has begun the fascination of George Harrison for the Oriental philosophy.
53 – The street number in Manhattan that Pierre Arnold Bernard, known as Omnipotent Oom, and his wife opened in 1919 a Yoga school for women. Called the Yoga Center, the school also offered courses of anatomy, psychology, and Sanskrit.
10,000 $ – The amount of money donated by Anne Vanderbilt to Berndard’s studio, a studio frequented among others by Helena Rubinstein, Ethel Barrymore and Frances Payne Bolton, one of the first women elected on the American Congress.
200 acres – The area occupied by the first American yoga ashram, created by Bernard in New York in 1919. Among his disciples were the Vanderbilt family, the British spy Sir Paul Dukes and the folk singer Pete Seeger and his family.
1985 – The year in which Donna Karan revealed her first collection, whose core piece was a black body. “I created it with the thought of what pieces it would allow me to run from job to yoga,” she said in an interview given in 2013 in The New York Times.
850,000 $ -The donation fund of Donna Karan, the Urban Zen Foundation, donated to the Beth Israel Medical Center for a one-year experiment that aimed at research into eastern healing methods, including yoga.
1997 – The year in which Pilates instructor Jonatha Urla founded Yogilates practice, a combination of Pilates and Hatha Yoga in order to create a “balanced workout.”
10 – The number of times that Yogilates is mentioned by members of the Cohen family along a single scene in season 1, episode 12 of The O.C.
1 – The number of songs on Madonna’s CD in 1998, called Ray of Light, sung by artist in Sanskrit. The album was inspired by the singer’s discovery of yoga practice Ashtanga and Eastern philosophies.
2000 – The year that Madonna played the role of a yoga instructor in The Next Best Thing. The character, who in the initial scenario was a swimming teacher, changed his profession to Madonna’s requirements.
15 – The number of facial positions recommended in The Yoga Face, positions that Annelise Hage says will reduce fine lines and wipe wrinkles.
2002 – The year in which Christie Tulington appeared on the Vogue’s cover in a variation of the Position of the Arc.
10,000 – Participants took part in the largest yoga class held in Central Park in New York in 2010.
6 – Days a week, actress Gwyneth Paltrow wakes up at 4:30 in the morning for her yoga class. “I’m not really a mature person,” she said in 2011. “There’s a lot of determination in the middle.”
20 million – The number of Americans over 18 years of age practicing yoga, according to a study commissioned by the Yoga Journal in 2012.
10.7 billion $ – The amount the Americans spent in 2012 on yoga training and equipment, shows the same study.
$ 98 – The cost of Lululemon’s yoga pants pulled back by the producing company because they were too transparent. “Certainly some bodies simply do not look good in those pants,” said founder Chip Wilson, forced to resign one month after making that statement.
40 degrees Celsius – The temperature of a Bikram yoga studio.
2015 – The year is expected to complete a five-year study analyzing the biological effects of yoga practice, a study led by a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School.
4 – The Number of months that Elizabeth Gilbert spent after divorce practicing yoga and meditation in an ashram.
222 – The number of weeks that her book, Eat.Pray.Love, spent on the New York Times list of best-selling books in 2006. 57 of those weeks was No. 1.
3 – The Number of months for which Julia Roberts hired personal instructor Kirschen Hagenlocher when filming for Eat. Pray. Love in 2009.
By Sophia Panych; translation and adaptation by Mirela Ujică; photo by Arthur Belebeau, Yannis Vlamos