From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Richard Hittleman specialized in introducing Yoga in an easy-to-follow fashion to those who were new to the subject. Through his books, lectures, recordings and TV programs, he brought Yoga to more people than any other person alive at the time. He was most active (the 1960s and 1970s) (Howard Kent, 'Yoga for Health: A Breakthrough in Television Programs' in Yoga and Health, edited by Ronald Hutchinson, Astrian, London, 1972, p. 18). It has been said that Richard Hittleman introduced Yoga to literally millions of people via the medium of television (Yogi's Boo-boo by Ami Chen Mills, 22-Nov. 29, 1995 issue of Metro and Howard Kent in Yoga and Health, London, 1972, p. 18). His method was to start with the most elementary Hatha Yoga postures and gradually bring the student into more advanced physical asanas and the more profound Yoga philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. So popular did Richard Hittleman's Yoga For Health TV programmes become that '... the programs were repeated again and again - indeed, in New York 'Yoga for Health' was screened for more than four-and-a-half years without a break'.
Hittleman was a student of the great Indian spiritual master, Ramana Maharshi, along with Dr. Paul Brunton, in the late 1940s and regarded Maharshi as his guru. He also had an interest in Zen Buddhism, and Buddhism generally. He is said to have been working with his daughter on a re-interpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead at the time of his death from prostate cancer. Richard Hittleman's chief teaching was that ultimately all is only divine SELF (atman) - the blissful mind of God - and that this divine Selfhood was present in all people, to be realized through meditation and other Yoga techniques. Hittleman wrote: "'Self' is another word for 'God'. This is the God who is the Absolute, immutable, without qualities, pure Awareness, without beginning or end." (Richard Hittleman, Yoga for Health, Ballantine Wellspring, New York, 1983, p. 185). Hittleman further comments on the nature of the Self:
'In the Yoga scriptures, it is explained that the word "Self" is used to indicate that the Absolute we are attempting to describe is Self-luminous. It shines by its own light that has no beginning and no end. It is dependent upon nothing and is not affected by, nor does it react to, any occurrence in the phenomenal world. It is further characterized as having the qualities of Bliss and Knowledge. That is, when you manifest as that which you truly Are, the experience is one of unqualified Joy and direct (not relative) Knowledge.'
Richard Hittleman wrote numerous books on Hatha Yoga, and several covering Yoga philosophy. His style was always lucid, immensely readable for the newcomer to Yoga, yet his content was surprisingly profound (he had taken an M.A. in Oriental mysticism at Columbia University and was a friend of Alan Watts).
Although Hittleman died in 1991, some of his books are still in print, and his ground-breaking TV series, Yoga for Health (made in England in 1970), can still be found on DVD.
There were two later series produced of "Yoga for Health". One was done in a co production with KTEH, San Jose, starring Richard Hittleman as the instructor and master, with a male model demonstrating intermediate posture and a female model demonstrating beginning postures. These shows were produced by Mort Levit and Gabreal Franklin. A later, and last series, was produced by Mort Levit, and directed by Gabreal Franklin at KMST Studios.