- Hittleman, Richard
- (d. 1991)pioneer hatha yoga instructorRichard Hittleman was an American writer and teacher who popularized YOGA to a mass audience starting in the late 1950s.Hittleman was born in New York City and raised in the city’s Jewish community. He initially encountered yoga through a Hindu maintenance man who worked for his parents. He sought out additional teachers and during the 1940s devel-oped his own system of HATHA YOGA, which he began to market as “Yoga for Health.” In 1957 he opened the American Academy of Yoga in Coral Gables, Florida, but within a few years he relo-cated to California. In 1961 he initiated the first yoga television show. Through the show and more than a dozen books, he introduced the practice of yoga ASANAS (postures) to a huge audience. Over the next decades he would sell more than 8 mil-lion books.In 1964, in his small volume Yoga Philosophy and Meditation, he noted that many who had been attracted to yoga as exercise had also requested to know more about the teachings from which the practice arose. The request led to his writing several additional books on yoga philosophy and meditation, including Guide to Yoga Meditation (1969) and Yoga: The 8 Steps to Health and Peace (1976). These volumes, never as successful as his hatha yoga texts, exemplified ways hatha yoga could be used as an introductory tool to Hindu life and thought.In 1977, Hittleman established the Yoga Universal Church, based in Rapid City, South Dakota. He had accepted ordination and chartered his church through the Universal Life Church in Modesto, California, the famous mail-order denomination set up by Kirby Hensley. Hittleman closed the Yoga Universal in the early 1980s. He subsequently formed a new organization, Yoga Universal, in 1982, not connected with the Uni-versal Life Church. Yoga Universal continues to offer yoga-based events through Hittleman’s asso-ciates John Roddy and Mary Conley.Hittleman remained active into the 1980s. He died in 1991. His last years were spent fighting the Internal Revenue Service about back taxes. He died before the matter was settled, and the tax bill remains in litigation with his estate.Further reading: Richard Hittleman, Guide to Yoga Meditation (New York: Bantam Books, 1969); ———, Yoga: the 8 steps to Health and Peace (New York: Bantam Books, 1976); Richard Hittleman’s Guide for the Seeker (New York: Bantam Books, 1978); ———, Richard Hit-tleman’s 30 Day Yoga Meditation Plan (New York: Ban-tam Books, 1978); ———, Yoga for Total Fitness (New York: Bantam Books, 1982); Ami Chen Mills, “Death and Taxes,” Available online. http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/11.22.95/yogi-9547.html. Accessed August 16, 2005.
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.