How India came to Alta Badia

Billion dollar industry or path to enlightenment? Spiritually charged gimmick or secret weapon for a healthy life? We won't be able to answer the question of what exactly yoga is here; far cleverer people will cut their teeth on it. One thing is certain: modern yoga with its physical and breathing exercises does something to us humans.
We have also realised this here in Alta Badia. Because when everyone else in Europe already knew what a dog looking down was, South Tyrol was still a real yoga wasteland. Thank God, that has changed and even in the most remote mountain villages people practise the sun salutation. It's actually quite astonishing, because when the first yoga course was offered in Bruneck almost 40 years ago, there was a lot of excitement. But more about that later. First, let's take a short detour to South Asia.

How old is yoga really? 5000 or only 500 years?

Without a doubt: It sounds good and makes something to read that the yoga tradition is five thousand years old. But this brings us back to the problem of the concept of yoga and the observation that just because something is incredibly old doesn't necessarily mean it's incredibly effective. Apart from that: There are actually pictorial representations from Mohenjo-Daro in present-day Pakistan that are thousands of years old and are said to show yoga exercises. The word "yoga" was first verifiably written around 300 BC in the so-called Upanishads. This Hindu collection of writings describes yoga as a "way to overcome joy and suffering". For those who want to know exactly (and what a team of oxen has to do with it), verses 3.3 and 6.10 are recommended. The first person to describe yoga as a whole way of life, and who still shapes it today, was the Indian scholar Patañjali. He lived between the 2nd century BC and the 4th century AD and describes the famous "eight-limbed path" in his four-chapter, 195-verse Yogasutra. This, in turn, is not only interesting for aspiring yoga teachers, but also for all those who see yoga simply as a trendy form of physical exercise. Spoiler: It isn't. Even if steeled Instafluencers claim otherwise.  
From India to America to Europe and then via Bruneck to Alta Badia...

It will take a while before we arrive in the present day and here in St. Kassian. Because the path that yoga had to take in order to land in beautiful South Tyrol was an extremely adventurous one. There is no getting around big names like Swami Vivekananda, who gave a lecture in Chicago in 1896 and triggered a veritable wave of yoga enthusiasm, or Paramahamsa Yogananda with his first ashrams on the American continent. Somewhat later, namely with the increasing popularity of free body culture and the reform movement, yoga also became better known in Europe. When yoga masters such as Pattabhi Jois or B.K.S. Iyengar entered the world stage in the 1960s and 1970s, there was no stopping them "in the West". Everywhere from Los Angeles to London, asanas (physical exercises) and pranayama (breathing techniques) were practised to the hilt. Speaking of Satan, many suspected him when an Indian named Rakesh Nanda pitched his tents in the South Tyrolean town of Bruneck in the 1980s and began teaching yoga. There was talk of a diabolical secret society, or at least a hippie sect. Even the local newspaper warned against this practice called yoga and ran the headline: "Beware of false idols". Numerous indignant letters to the editor and a few South Tyroleans later who went to India themselves to learn it in the country of origin, yoga has become an indispensable part of life for many people here in Alta Badia. Of course, a holiday with us at the Lagació is an excellent opportunity to roll out the mat in particularly beautiful surroundings. If you like, you can be guided by our yoga teacher Romy. With a maximum of three other yogis and yoginis, we practise individually, depending on the level of the participants, the time of year or the time of day. Our tip: Reserve a place in Romy's yoga classes before you arrive at the Lagació!