Yoga in Sweden
Yoga in Sweden is the practice of yoga, whether for exercise or other reasons, in Sweden. The form of yoga practised in the Western world was influenced by Pehr Henrik Ling's system of gymnastics. Sweden is home, too, to Europe's first yoga school, the Goswami Yoga Institute in Stockholm.
The Swedish gymnastics pioneer Pehr Henrik Ling (1776–1839) devised a system of gymnastics which, according to yoga scholar Mark Singleton, shaped the development of modern yoga as exercise in the Western world.
Yoga arrived in Sweden in 1949 when the Indian yogi Shyam Sundar Goswami (1891-1978) visited the country for the Lingiaden gymnastic competition named for Ling. Goswami founded Stockholm's Goswami Yoga Institute the same year: it was the first yoga school in Europe, and Goswami taught there for the rest of his life. His followers continue to run the institute.
In 1972, Swami Janakananda founded the Kriya Yoga centre Håå Kursgård in the southern province of Småland. In 1976, Stockholm's Skandinavisk Yoga och Meditationsskola ("Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School") was founded. It claims to be Stockholm's oldest school of yoga as exercise, and uses Håå Kursgård as its retreat centre.
Rachel Bråthén (1988- ), known as "Yoga Girl", is a Swedish yoga teacher whose 2015 book, also called Yoga Girl, became a New York Times best-seller and popularised the line "Yoga every damn day". One of the pioneers of Paddleboard Yoga, she lives and teaches yoga in the island of Aruba in the Caribbean Sea.
Interest in yoga has increased rapidly in the 21st century. Around 5% of Swedes state that they practice yoga, though few have read the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In 2017, yoga was Sweden's 8th most popular fitness method, and was the primary fitness activity for 12% of its women and 2% of its men.
From 2012 there has been an ongoing debate in Sweden about whether yoga may be taught in schools, as religious instruction is forbidden in the state schooling system. Sweden's School Inspectorate decided in 2012 that Östermalm School in Stockholm could teach yoga as exercise. The scholar Erik af Edholm noted that since Ling's gymnastics had influenced modern yoga, the yoga now practised in Sweden was a secularised and reimported form of gymnastics.
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