Friday Flashback: Swami Sarasvati

Australian TV got its first taste of Yoga through the ground-breaking instruction of Swami Sarasvati.

Long before TV’s fitness craze with Richard Simmons, Aerobics Oz Style and Jane Fonda home videos, Australian television got its first taste of Yoga.

The exotic Swami Sarasvati introduced a new and unusual method of ‘stretching’, performing mind-bending postures on daytime television. Her self-titled 10 show ran from 1969 until the late ’70s.

In doing so Swami, now believed to be in her late ’70s, also became a pioneer in diverse representation on Australian television.

She was trained from the age of three by her father in meditation, Yoga and Hindu philosophy.

In later life she continued to teach Yoga & meditation, from a secluded 60 acre Yoga retreat in Kenthurst, with son Sanjay.

12 Responses

  1. Swami used to make regular trips to Adelaide and, when she did, she used to do a program live from SAS10. I remember one morning when we ended up with an all-local lineup – Today, Romper Room, Swami, a cooking advertorial and Touch of Elegance – between 6.30am and noon, most of it live!

  2. Relaxing With Roma was only 4-5 mins between Today and Here’s Humphrey. Swami Sarasvati ran a full half-hour on TEN mid-morning. No 5-min breaks every 7 mins for a screaming James someone flogging steam mops and knives, and some depressing female flogging life insurance. To compare those days of relaxation and entertainment with the non-stop commercial that passes for daytime TV these days.

    1. Her segments were always only 5-10 minutes. The show was originally just called Yoga with “Roma Blair” and well predated Today and Humphrey. The second version was “Relaxing With Roma”.
      In the days when TV started transmission at 11 am and 1 pm on weekends,it was hardly included in TV guides being shoehorned between programs as you say. I remember it as a program I disliked as a kid, along with Autumn Leaves, Del Cartwrights “Your ‘Home” and Sunnyside Uo.

        1. Not sure of your point, though;
          Saturday 11th July 1964 (TCN9)
          10.30 Focus on Sport
          11.20 Yoga with Roma Blair
          11.30 Focus on Sport
          Source Sydney Morning Herald (Weekly TV Guide) Monday 6th July 1964

  3. Actually David, Roma Blair gave Australia’s first yoga program in 1962 on Channel 9, 7 mornings a week.
    She was qualified in India and given the title. Swami Nirmalananda. She died aged 90.

  4. I remember seeing some of this when I was very young.
    Of course these days I would like to see female news presenters do this, or at least end the news whilst seated in the Lotus Position!

  5. There’s a photo of me around 5 years of age in front of the TV trying to adopt one of her poses. I used to love watching her as a little boy. This is a real blast from the past.

  6. This is before my time, but there’s a lack of programming focusing on mindfulness, meditation or yoga on Australian television nowadays. I think it would be suitable for morning or after-work television.

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