YS 102: Modern Yoga in the West

A 4-week live online course (June 428, 2019)

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 live 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. 

Can't Attend Live? No problem! All lectures will be recorded.

All of our live lectures and Q&A sessions will be recorded and posted for later viewing. Students will have 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 live weekly video lectures + Q&A (2 hours)
  • 4 live weekly 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 Structure

All live sessions will take place using the online Zoom platform* 


Weekly Lectures (2 hours)

Tuesdays @ 2pm PST (California) = 10pm (London) = 7am (Wed, Sydney)
June 4, 11, 18, 25


Weekly Q&A (1 hour)

Fridays @ 12pm PST (California) = 8pm (London) = 5am (Sat, Sydney)
June 7, 14, 21, 28




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

Sign up today and receive immediate access to the course Syllabus + Recommended Readings.

2 Monthly Payments

$98 x 2



1 Time Payment




Frequently Asked Questions

The course will run "live" for 4 weeks, from June 4 - 28, 2019. However, students will have lifetime access to the course and all of its materials beyond this period. 

Not to worry! All lectures + Q&A sessions will be recorded and posted to the course website within 24 hours of posting. Students will have lifetime access to them. 

So even if you cannot attend live, you can absolutely still participate in the course. You can simply watch the lecture at a convenient time during the week. 

You are also encouraged to participate in the online forum, and to send questions in ahead of time, especially if you cannot attend live. 

You will have continued access to all lectures and materials beyond the 4 weeks. There is no time limit to complete the course. 

Each weekly module will consist of a "live" lecture & Q&A (2 hours), an additional weekly live Q&A session (1 hour), recommended readings, optional quizzes to test your knowledge as you go, and occasional PDF handouts.


Both the weekly lectures + Q&A sessions will take place live via the Zoom platform. However, rest assured, they will also be recorded for later viewing. 

Each video lecture is comprised of the instructor teaching directly to the camera, alongside keynote slides and other short web clips. They are visually rich, clearly organized, and engaging.

The lectures will last ~90 min. followed by a brief 30 min Q&A session for those who can attend live. 

The weekly Q&A sessions are 60 min and offer a fun, less formal, and highly accessible virtual classroom space for us to go deeper into the weekly materials, ask questions, and engage in meaningful dialogue. 

Nope. No books required for purchase.

There will be "core" readings that are highly recommended for each module, all of which are downloadable as PDFs. In addition, for students wanting to go deeper, articles and books will be recommended for further study. 

Yes! Upon completion of the course, you will be eligible for an official Yogic Studies certificate of completion. 

This is a bonus feature for those who are Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) with Yoga Alliance. Once you've completed the course you can login to your YA account, search for the course in their registry, and add the course and your hours. Once Yogic Studies has received a confirmation request, we can confirm your CE hours. 

If for some reason you are unsatisfied with the course, contact us in the first 30 days and we will issue you a full refund! See, you have nothing to lose. So what are you waiting for? : )

Please direct all questions and inquiries to [email protected]


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