In this episode, we speak with return guest Philip Deslippe about his research on the history of Early American Yoga. Philip shares with us his archive of knowledge and stories from the "Swami Circuit"—the network of forgotten South Asian yoga teachers who travelled and taught various forms of yoga throughout the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. We discuss the nature of yoga and yoga teachers during this time, the demographics and geography of yoga, issues of authenticity and professionalization, how racism and and immigration policies impacted yoga, and why yoga was commonly taught at hotels during this period. We conclude with a preview of his upcoming revised online course, YS 102 | Modern Yoga in the West.
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.