Yoga has been defined as a method of controlling the alteration of one’s brain. Yoga is also a commonly known term around the world, and many people follow it. However, there are a variety of causes why people practice yoga today, including mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, or all three. Various physical exercises are performed during a yoga session. In general, this physical component of yoga promotes joint stability and suppleness, as well as the flexibility and suppleness of the spine and muscles. This is thought to be very important for the body to work properly. Nonetheless, there are other activities involved during the session. Asanas, which are postures assumed for a considerable length of time, especially when one is seated are a common feature practiced during a yoga session. It requires that participants while seated assume a position that is firm but still relaxed. Asanas, just like the physical activities are important to the participants, are equally essential for relaxing the mind. Yoga is believed to have originated from the East and spread to the rest of the world. Although it had been practiced for a while, it gained remarkable acquisition and recognition due to the interest showed by the Beatles in learning about it during the 60’s.
The Beatles were a group of four young lads, who sprung up and completely revolutionized the pop music. The four group members, who consisted of John Lennon, Harrison George, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney, still remain among the best selling musical groups to date. The Beatles were a force to reckon with. Anything that the Beatles engaged in gained enormous popularity and fame most especially among the young and consequently was highly embraced and practiced. The Beatles grew consistently both in music and every other career and activity they engaged in and received much love from their fans, especially the youngsters. They were an epitome that was emulated in several aspects and had much influence in what the youth engaged in from fashions in dressing, haircuts and many others. Years into their careers, the Beatles were invited and recommended by one of their band members, Harrison, to visit India and partake in Transcendental meditation and yoga which he had had previous interest in
The Beatles trip to India and their influence in popularizing yoga
The Beatles first travelled to Rishikesh, India in the year 1968, following an extended visit by Harrison for them to spend time and practice transcendental meditation in the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. However, they had previously met him while he was on a tour in England lecturing about yoga. While they attended the lecture as they did most other activities together, Harrison who had earlier interests in mantra and meditation, thought that Maharishi’s lecture was quite insightful, and so did the other two band members who had accompanied him. Maharishi was the guru, leader and inventor of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Harrison notes that Maharishi indicated that if one devoted approximately 20 minutes of their time in the morning and in the evening in deep meditation then this would consequently result to an immense improvement in the quality of life and also help one find meaning in life.
At the end of the lecture the Beatles met up with Maharishi and greatly appreciated his impact on their lives. Lennon recognizes that the needs of the youths could not be met nor accomplished by their parents, material things or the church. He thought that meditation was the answer/ key to the youths were searching and looking for. Maharishi then invited the young lads into a session in order to teach and train them on how to meditate. In an interview following a few weeks of meditation practice as they had been taught by Maharishi, the Beatles profess of the goodness and the satisfaction they were experiencing. For instance, they passionately describe their experiences in regard to feeling energized; tapping into an oasis of energy within themselves that although it was preexisting within them they had not been able to tap into it. They also recount just about how much meditation brightens their moods, especially when experiencing a bad day. Lennon, for instance, states that “the worst days of meditation I have are better than the worst days I had before” (Transcendental Meditation)
During their time in Rishikesh, under meditation and in a peaceful environment, the Beatles experienced remarkable growth spiritually and were also able to write many more songs which were also hits. Ringo, for instance, was able to write his first song while the rest added to their already existing bunch (Mendes). The Beatles sought to find solace and escape from the “rat’s nest of fame” which had engulfed their lives so as to rejuvenate their minds, bodies and find a new angle of creativity into their song writing. Their influence had not diminished and the media, even in their solace moments managed to follow them around to inform the rest of the world what the Beatles were doing. The act of meditation, despite having originated in India was not fully explored even in India. This was however at the edge of changing as the Beatles engaged more and more in the act. They were role models, “gods” to be emulated and the people adored them. This time around things were not any different. Two years down the line after the Beatles began practicing Transcendental Meditation, its popularity was widespread and nearly five million people had begun participating in the meditation (Mendes).
The decision by the Beatles to move to India and engage in meditation and yoga was puzzling to many. This was so since the Beatles were viewed as esteemed, accomplished, envied by many, also were viewed as a great to many, and thus it was puzzling as to why they would result in engaging in such activities, more so in a place that was considered less deserving of their “mighty beings”. The Beatles however were less bothered by this and thus carried on with their original intentions. Unknowingly to them, this was also a platform that encouraged and urged the people from the East to embrace and practice regularly and engage in meditation and yoga. The Beatles assumed their lives as they grew beards and changed their dressing to Indian-inspired clothes such as the collarless shirts and sandals and the people felt that they relate with them in every minimal way (Pickard 15). Their everyday appearances and devotion in participating in yoga and meditation then extended to the rest of the East region as they also begin, although gradually to engage in the act and eventually it was popularized. Additionally, the Beatles incorporated the Eastern cultures into their music further encouraging the Indians to emulate whatever the Beatles would engage in.
Everything the Beatles engaged in they did so with vigor and great motivation. During their stay in India, as they participated in yoga, they were equally devoted and this devotion ultimately flowed and was a great influence to the rest. The sacrifices they made, especially since it required that they abandon the lives they were used to and adopt a new lifestyle was what further motivated their fans to engage in the activity as well. Long hours of meditation, the humbleness demonstrated in the entire exercise as well as adopting a vegan diet was not easy, but the Eastern people figured if the Beatles who had it all could make it so effortlessly and with such devotion, why would it be so difficult for them.
Yoga has since evolved just as the Beatles did for all the years they actively engaged in music films as well as other activities. Yoga is currently widespread well beyond the Eastern borders and is practiced worldwide. The Beatles are equally responsible for the widespread practice of yoga and meditation in the West just like they stimulated the practice in the East during the time they spent there. This was however with the help of established practitioners and teachers who were now moving from the Eastern to the Western side to popularize the act. By the time the Beatles were leaving Rakeshi with all the teachings they had received from the Maharishi they would be considered as masters of yoga. They had become profoundly influential especially among the youth who were now actively engaging in yoga. Approximately five million individuals by the 1970s were already practicing yoga (Chatraw).
Parents of the youth were at first concerned with the whole yoga thing and the things and activities that were engaged but soon after they were able to appreciate its importance for their children due to the remarkable influence they were witnessing. Its popularity across the world was huge and has since then evolved and resulted to different classes of yoga including yoga for women exclusively, men exclusively, both genders, for the elderly, pregnant women as well as yoga for babies. Over the years since yoga was introduced in the west, most West travelers have sought to partake in the experiences of the Beatles by travelling to Rakeshi, India and engage in yoga practices from there (Schultz). In order to recognize and embed the history and influence of the Beatles in regard to story/music and more importantly their contributions in popularizing yoga in the West a museum was set up in their honour as a commemoration to mark an approximately fifty years since their visit to Rakeshi, India. The connection between yoga and the Beatles is a profound one. Amazingly, these two have almost similar relief effects. Music by the Beatles remains considerably influencial, brings forth a sense of joy, uplifts one’s heart and rejuvenates one’s body. This same feeling can be achieved in daily engagement in a yoga session where the muscles and joints are flexed and more so the mind is eased as one find’s the inner peace they long for (Blackledge). As an international event, yoga has been awarded an International Yoga Day following an endorsement by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the year 2014 to the UN General Assembly (Presse). Things are much simpler these days as people all over can access yoga materials and engage in the act from the comfort of their homes. Home DVDS, self-practice and engaging a regular teacher are all choices one has to choose among. Rishikesh has even been named as the capital for yoga and besides engagement on other usual days, the International Yoga Day has many people visiting the place to have an exclusive experience.
Blackledge Jessi. The Beatles & Yoga. Elephant journal, 2014, https://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/04/the-beatles-yoga-jessie-blackledge/. Accessed 9th Nov 2018
Chatraw Janel. Did the Beatles introduce yoga to the Western world? https://people.howstuffworks.com/beatles-yoga.htm. Accessed 11th Nov 2018
Mendes Raissa. The Beatles, Yoga and How Their Trip To India Changed Everything, 2018, http://www.awaken.com/2018/08/the-beatles-yoga-and-how-their-trip-to-india-changed-everything/. Accessed 9th Nov 2018.
Pickard Sarah. The Beatles: Followers of fashion or pioneers of British Youth Culture? 2011; pp 1-21
Presse France Agence. How Rishikesh became the world’s yoga capital with a little help from Beatles. Hindustan times, 2018, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/how-rishikesh-became-the-world-s-yoga-capital/story-c0QGLGShVBD3lV1OJGABoM.html. Accessed 9th Nov 2018
Schultz Kai. How The Beatles tried to escape the ‘ rat’s nest of fame’ in India. Independent, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/the-beatles-india-ashram-mahesh-yogi-rishikesh-music-yoga-pop-white-album-a8172286.html. Accessed 11th Nov 2018
Transcendental Meditation. How The Beatles Learned Transcendental Meditation- and what they thought about it, 2014, https://tmhome.com/experiences/interview-lennon-and-harrison-on-meditation/. Accessed 11th Nov 2018