Yoga? In Space?

Let it never be said that you don’t get all the angles on space travel and rocketry here on the Really Rocket Science blog. Oh sure, I could tell you about Japan’s launch this afternoon of the country’s largest satellite ever, but you’d much rather know about Yoga’s history in space, right? I thought so.

In any event, I came across this interesting story on the history of Yoga in America published in a recent issue of the Columbia Journalism Review from one of my favorite news/article blog, Arts & Letters Daily. While most of the article, obviously didn’t have much to do with what we talk about here on RRS, it turns out that Yoga has interesting relationship with space travel. For example, at the height of the Cold War Space Race, there was a fair amount of concern about India’s ties to the Soviet Union’s space program. In the 1950s,

"Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India, obviously prompted by cold-war worries, denied reports that his nation would supply the Soviet Union with yogis to help cosmonauts breathe easier in outer space."

While yogi’s might have never made it to Mother Russia, Yoga did make it into outer-space (and on a Russian mission, no less) when Rakesh Sharma, who some have recently rumored is being considered for a second trip into space, became the first Indian in space in 1984. During the spring flight aboard the Soviet Soyuz T-11, Sharma often did a somewhat elaborate series of zero-gravity Yoga exercises, marking the first extraterrestrial practice of the asanas (postures). Ever since, there has been great interest in the potential benefits in stress relief, breathing, and circulation Yoga could bring to space travel in the future.

Moral of the story? If you’re thinking about hoping a trip on the Virgin Galactic-1 or one of the other opportunities for space travel that might come afterwards, maybe you should start thinking about picking up a matt and heading off to your your local Yoga center while you wait.