The NYPD was shocked by several things they saw during their morning raid on the building on W. 74th St., but one thing particularly scandalized them: the women inside were wearing tights. The police captain confirmed the sighting to the New-York Tribune, which said that “two of his men saw the tights with their own eyes.”
Their target that May day in 1910 was the yoga school of Pierre A. Bernard. This was not Bernard’s first run-in with the law, nor would it be his last, but it was the one that got the American-born guru and unabashed practitioner of Tantric and hatha yoga in the deepest trouble. It also spelled the beginning of a challenging period for what was then seen by some as an exotic and even dangerous practice.
Yoga was first introduced to the country nearly 20 years earlier, but it was during the early 20th century that it began to attract more interest, particularly among the wealthy and artistic classes. In a response that has become all too common in the country, many in mainstream society decided the foreign-looking downward dogs and cobra poses were a threat, especially to American women. (Let us not forget about the tights!)