YS 102 | Modern Yoga in the West

A 12-hour online course

with Philip Deslippe, PhD Candidate, UCSB


Distance Learning

Study the history and philosophy of yoga, at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home. 

Digital Svādhyāya

Engage in the traditional practice of "Self-Study," using the latest in modern online learning technologies.

Online Community

Join a thriving online community of yoga teachers, practitioners, and students from around the world. 

Curious WHY yoga is more popular than ever today? WHERE did all of this yoga come from? WHO were the key figures responsible for its transmission? WHAT did yoga look like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? And HOW did yoga transform into the global and commercialized practice of today?

Join renowned yoga scholar, Philip Deslippe, PhD Candidate at UC Santa Barbara, and a global cohort of students, for this exciting opportunity to study and explore the fascinating and largely unknown history of modern yoga in the Westbased on many years of Deslippe's deep archival research. 

Through video lectures, intimate Q&A sessions, readings, and quizzes, together we will journey through the past 150 years of yoga's remarkable, bizarre, and unexpected journey from East to West.


This online course is designed to give students an understanding of the development of modern yoga in the West from the mid-nineteenth century up to the present day in areas including the United States and England, Europe and Australia, Latin America, Russia, and Japan. Students will encounter large-scale historical narratives and key figures in the development of modern yoga in the West, while also engaging with lesser-known characters and fascinating case studies. 

While we will move chronologically from the turn-of-the-century to the Second World War, and then through the Counterculture and New Age movement  to yoga’s recent boom in popularity, we will also have an eye to several running themes throughout this history such as modern yoga’s use of medical science, the role of media and technology in the spread of modern yoga, questions of cultural appropriation and consumer culture, scandal and critiques of yoga, the influence of colonialism and geopolitics, and the changing nature of the guru/student model. We will conclude with a look at the current state of modern yoga in the West and several key issues and ongoing controversies. 

Now available for SELF-STUDY.

Students will have immediate + LIFETIME access to all course materials.

Topics covered in this course include:

  • a broad view history of the development of Modern Yoga

  • case studies of known and lesser-known figures, swamis, and gurus

  • East meets West: the global transmissions of Early Modern Yoga
  • the demographics and practice of yoga in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

  • the landscape of Early American Yoga
  • yoga after WWII

  • the rise of the "Counter Culture" and the "New Age"

  • yoga and medical science, media, and technology

  • yoga, politics, and globalization

  • scandal and critiques of yoga

  • questions of cultural appropriation and consumerism

  • the changing nature of the guru/student model

  • And much more!


Students enrolled in this course will receive:

  • 4 pre-recorded video lectures + Q&A (2 hours)
  • 4 pre-recorded Q&A sessions (1 hour)
  • 12 Hours of CE credit
  • Course Syllabus with Recommended Readings (PDF)
  • Additional Handouts (PDF)
  • Yogic Studies Certificate upon completion (PDF)
  • Access to the private Yogic Studies Online Community Forum

This course is eligible for 12 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance

Course Modules

Module 1 — Coming to Terms with Modern Yoga in the West 

For our introductory model we will begin with a brief overview of the course and then set out to define our subject and some key ideas that we will use throughout the course. We will differentiate modern yoga from pre-modern yoga, understand concepts such as Orientalism, colonialism, and re-enculturation, and discuss the spectrum that extends from religion to spirituality to secular wellness.


Module 2 — Mental and Magical: The Early History of Modern Yoga in the West

In the second module we will follow the development of modern yoga in the West from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, as ideas about yoga, and then teachers and texts, began to spread throughout the Anglophone world and then into Europe, Latin America, and Japan. We will look at how yoga during this time was markedly different than practices in the West now, and see how it was taught, attacked by critics, represented in popular culture, and diffused globally.


Module 3 — Physical and Postural: The Recent History of Modern Yoga in the West

Around the time of the Second World War, modern yoga in the West begins to take on the physical and postural emphasis that we recognize today, and then is shaped in turn by new technology, the Hippie Counterculture, the New Age movement, and secular fitness movements. We will look at these in turn and also explore specific schools of modern yoga and how they organized themselves, spread throughout the world, and began to lead to the global industry that exists today.


Module 4 — Current Trends and Future Issues

In our final module we will take a close look at the state of modern yoga in the West today, and then informed by our previous three weeks of study, look at several issues that make us rethink what yoga is or pose challenges to its future such as problems with the guru/student model, cultural appropriation and the politics of yoga, consumerism, and the economics of yoga.

Your Instructor

Philip Deslippe is a historian of American religion with a background in American Studies and literature. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he is writing a dissertation on the early history of yoga in the United States from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century.

Philip has published articles on the history of modern yoga in academic journals such as the Journal of Yoga Studies, Amerasia, and Sikh Formations, and in popular venues including Yoga Journal, Air and Space Smithsonian, and the Indian news site Scroll.  He has presented his work at several dozen academic conferences, given guest lectures for courses at Stanford, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara, and has been a lecturer for the teacher training program at Avalon Yoga in Palo Alto, California for the last five years. His writing has been translated into Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Turkish.

Enrollment is OPEN

This course is set up for self-study. Sign up today to begin moving through the modules at your own pace.

1 Time Payment




2 Monthly Payments

$88 x2






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"This is an incredible course! Anyone who has more than a passing interest in yoga and its place in the contemporary scene needs to listen to Philip's presentation. Highly recommended for yoga practitioners, scholars, teachers and for anyone having an interest in the contemporary culture scene in the West."

YS 102 Student

"YS 102 is a fascinating overview of the development of modern yoga in the west. The teacher, Philip Deslippe, organised the material well and presented it in an accessible way. I liked how he defined the terms he was using, and was clear about his methodology. The format of the course was engaging, making good use of the online platform, with video lectures that included visual materials, and Q & A sessions with diverse views being expressed. This course had the right amount of depth and breadth for me. I found it very informative and thought provoking and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in how yoga has developed and what forces are changing it into the future. It might just change how you think about yoga!"

Martha Goldman
Cairns, Queensland, Australia

"YS 102 opened my mind to look deeper at the sources of information and the motivation behind teachers, gurus, and history books. Very interesting material... this course actually made me start trusting myself more as a teacher!"

Maria Novak
Madison, Wisconsin

"YS 102 was an excellent course that helped me better understand the context for the work I do. Philip’s teaching helped expose a lot of false yoga mythology that I have absorbed under the guise of tradition. I am grateful for his work and gentle guidance around sometimes tricky topics. I highly recommend this class."

Sarah Henderson
Charlotte, North Carolina

"I loved Phillip's pragmatic approach. This course filled in a lot of gaps in my understanding of the History of Modern Yoga in the West. It was like a really cool, yet abbreviated, Religious Studies course."

YS 102 Student

"I loved Philip’s teaching style. He made the material accessible, interesting, and fun! I would jump at a chance to take more classes with him!"

YS 102 Student

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