Yoga in Yugoslavia

Josif Ruzick

Many decades have passed since yoga ceased to be only a secret teaching of Indian rishis and sadhus. Now. no matter which nationality, religion and political system, the worldwide spread of yoga shows its popularity.

In Yugoslavia this is mainly due to the work of the Yoga Society in Belgrade. With the help of a few yoga enthusiasts, yoga has been taught in the capital of Yugoslavia for the past fifteen years. There are several books on yoga which are popular here and through courses, lectures, radio and television, yoga has been promoted throughout the country.

The Yoga Society prints its own magazine and also organizes visits to other yoga centres in neighbouring countries. Much importance is placed on the visits of great yogis from foreign countries, especially India. Swami Satyananda Saraswati was heartily welcomed in Belgrade in 1973 during his tour of Europe. Later, some members of the society visited the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger and eventually translations of Swami Satyananda's books became available in Yugoslavia. The great experience of BSY is very useful for greater endeavour in the yoga field and all its applications.

Despite the popularity of yoga in Yugoslavia there are only a few competent teachers, who are mostly in Belgrade. Although yoga is usually viewed as being solely related to the teaching of asanas, or hatha yoga. there are some who see yoga as a path of mysticism reaching towards a higher reality. In general, modern man is tending to lose himself in the desire for more and more material possessions. He is not really concerned with knowing himself, nor is he aware that the true goal of yoga is within himself and is reflected by his attitude to life. Yoga is not far from man, but he is far from yoga.

As well as self-study, there are many other aspects of yoga. Of course, hatha yoga is most well known, especially for its positive effects on physical and mental health. In India and other countries there is the growth of modern yoga institutes and clinics which have had very successful results in the therapeutic field. Presently, there are no such developments in Yugoslavia, but some doctors and psychologists are interested in yoga and its therapeutic application. Perhaps in the future they will organize the beginnings of a yoga therapy institute.

The potential for the widespread growth of yoga in Yugoslavia is as great as in other countries. At present we have a nucleus of knowledgeable and motivated teachers; however, we need more. A little practice of yoga with an experienced teacher is more beneficial than merely talking about it.