Yoga on the Telly
Suzanne Newcombe [+]
Open University and Inform, King's College London
Simultaneous to the youth exploration of yoga and Indian spirituality was an increasing standardization and accessibility of yoga as exercise on television. The first presentations of Sir Paul Dukes (1889– 1967) on BBC television in 1949 were not well received by audiences. However, by the late 1960s the public was much more receptive. Perhaps the most popular televised programme in Britain was Yoga for Health (1971-74), imported from the United States and featuring Richard Hittleman (1927-1991). The success of Hittleman’s series lead to a UK-based spin-off series featuring Lyn Marshall which continued into the 1980s and a number of rival BBC programmes featuring yoga taught by Aruthur Balaskas which had been influenced by the anti-psychiatry of R.D. Laing, as well as a yoga feature on the popular lunchtime show Pebble Mill at One, whose yoga teachers had been taught by Punjabi immigrants to Britain, Dr. Gopal and Kalaish Puri. This chapter argues that yoga on television was a continuation of the adult education cultural form in which secular benefits for health and wellbeing were emphasized.