Yoga in Sweden

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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.


Pehr Henrik Ling's gymnastics system shaped the development of modern yoga as exercise.

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.[1]

Yoga arrived in Sweden in 1949 when the Indian yogi Shyam Sundar Goswami (1891-1978) visited the country for the Lingiaden [sv] 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.[2][3]

In 1946, the Austrian Walther Eidlitz (1892-1976), known as Vāmana Dāsa, moved to Sweden and taught Bhakti Yoga there for the rest of his life.[2]

In the early 1960s Bert Yoga Jonson (also called Bert Yogson) opened his yoga studio in Malmö, also teaching in Gothenburg and writing 15 books on yoga.[2][4]

Swami Janakananda founded the Kriya Yoga centre in Småland in 1972.

In 1972, Swami Janakananda founded the Kriya Yoga centre Håå Kursgård in the southern province of Småland.[2] In 1976, Stockholm's Skandinavisk Yoga och Meditationsskola ("Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School") was founded.[2] It claims to be Stockholm's oldest school of yoga as exercise, and uses Håå Kursgård as its retreat centre.[5]

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[6][7] and popularised the line "Yoga every damn day".[8][9] One of the pioneers of Paddleboard Yoga, having taught it from 2009 onwards,[10] she lives and teaches yoga in the island of Aruba in the Caribbean Sea.[11][12]


Whilst Yoga had a big following in the 20th Century, interest in yoga has increased rapidly in the 21st century. Many Swedes state that they practice yoga, though few have read the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15]

Sweden is, according to The Wall Street Journal, an "excellent place" for yoga retreats.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Singleton, Mark (2010). Yoga Body : the origins of modern posture practice. Oxford University Press. pp. 84-88. ISBN 978-0-19-539534-1. OCLC 318191988.
  2. ^ a b c d e Boll, Göran. "Yogans Historik i Sverige" [History of Yoga in Sweden] (in Swedish). Göran Boll. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Sri Shyam Sundar Goswami" (in Swedish). Goswami Yoga Institute. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  4. ^ Lundborg, Johannes (18 October 2002). ""Yoga är som att ha samlag med Gud i vardagen..."" ['Yoga is like conversing with God every day']. Gefle Dagblad (in Swedish).
  5. ^ "Om skolan i Stockholm" [On schools in Stockholm] (in Swedish). Skandinavisk Yoga och Meditationsskola. 2019. Håå Kursgård is described on another page on the same website.
  6. ^ "Books: Best Sellers: Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous". The New York Times. April 12, 2015. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  7. ^ Nilsson, Linda-Marie (October 16, 2015). "Yoga Girl om spriten: Jag drack för att döva" [Yoga Girl on spirits: I drank to forget]. Expressen. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  8. ^ Bråthén, Rachel (2015). Yoga Girl. First Touchstone. Chapter 1. ISBN 978-1501106767.
  9. ^ Tyzack, Anna (23 July 2015). "Bad girl to Yoga Girl: How life changed for Instagram yoga sensation Rachel Bråthén". The Daily Telegraph.
  10. ^ O'Riordan, Alison (12 September 2014). "The beach bum yogi who is bending all of the rules". Irish Independent. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  11. ^ Britt, Hannah (9 August 2015). "'I was a teenage tearaway before I discovered yoga'". Daily Express. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  12. ^ Hannum, Claire (13 October 2016). "These Photos Of 'Yoga Girl' Rachel Bråthén Practicing While Pregnant Are Absolutely Gorgeous". Self. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  13. ^ Geels, Antoon (24 March 2019). "Låt yogans urtext tänja tankens muskler" [Let Yoga's Original Text Stretch your Thought Muscles]. Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish).
  14. ^ "Undersökning om svenskarnas träningsvanor 2017" [Research on Swedes' Exercise Habits 2017] (in Swedish). MyNewsDesk. 29 December 2017.
  15. ^ Nilsson, Magnus; Selldén, Karin (28 April 2016). "Yoga - omdiskuterad och återimporterad" [Yoga – Debated and Reimported] (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio.
  16. ^ Russell, Helen (20 February 2014). "A Nordic Namaste: The Best Yoga Retreats in Scandinavia".