With Marilyn Monroe’s famous ‘Happy Birthday, Mr President’ dress selling for a record $4.8 million today, we look back on an icon known for her glamorous modelling shoots and movie career. Yet, it was her less publicised fondness of yoga and it’s philosophies that let us gain a greater insight into the person she really was.
At a time when women were discouraged from lifting a finger, let alone a dumbbell, she was an earlier adopter of strength training and allegedly made 10 minutes of weight lifting part of her morning ritual.
She was pictured doing moves like boat pose and shoulder stand in a photo shoot as early as 1948 but it was only during a 1952 interview with LIFE magazine that she revealed that she exercised regularly, stating she “couldn’t stand exercise if I had to feel regimented about it.”
One of the first yoga studios was opened in West Hollywood in 1947 by a petite German actress named Indra Devi, who many consider to be “The First Lady of Yoga”. Devi had learnt the asanas while a diplomat’s wife in Bombay. The practice only started to gain popularity among those with a growing interest in alternative and Eastern practices in the 1960s. Evidently Monroe was an early adopter.
Let Monroe be your guide through a series of asanas, thanks to these studio portraits from Columbia and Fox. Although flamboyant in style and aimed at building her star profile at the time, we hope you agree that they still serve as yoga inspiration today!
“I am trying to find myself. Sometimes that’s not easy.”