Published: June 1, 2015

Joseph Alter presented a talk at the University of Colorado on April 23, 2015.  His talk was titled “Yoga, Nature Cure and ‘Perfect’ Health.” Approximately, a little over 50 people attended the event. His talk offered a combination of a historical approach with some attention to an anthropological analysis of the history of yoga as it made its way in the west in the early part of the 20th Century. Alter pointed out some of the surprising connections between European explorations of what was called “nature cure” and a subsequent Indian interest in these European forms of healing in the early 20th century. Elements of this European “nature cure” find their way into Indian representations of yoga, particularly through the influential guru Śivānanda. With this the understandings of yoga that reach the west, while they purport to be indigenous Indian formulations of yoga, in reality, they are reworkings of 19th-century European conceptions of health grafted onto Indian forms of yoga. His talk was well received, with a number of questions at the end.