Marilyn Monroe is easily one of the most iconic stars in American history. Though she was famous for her beauty, you might not know that Monroe was an avid yoga student, too–and during a time when yoga wasn’t exactly a popular practice.
Monroe made everything look glamorous–and her interpretation of yoga poses made for some awe-inspiring photographs.
Yoga scholar Eric Shaw recently compiled 21 images, which he believes is a complete collection of all known photographs of Monroe doing yoga. He also provided some fascinating historical context in a recent blog post.
“I am interested in the yoga practices of famous people generally because they give authority to the practice and humanize it for all of us,” Shaw told Buzz. “Marilyn began doing yoga when it was still a very novel thing to do.”
Monroe died in 1962, four years before B.K.S. Iyengar published Light on Yoga, a book which drastically changed the way people in the U.S. thought about yoga. “He made yoga an artistic form,” Shaw wrote. “But Marilyn beat B.K.S. out of the gate.”
Though, as Shaw points out, some of the images could just look like yoga poses by coincidence. “Nonetheless, because she studied yoga (by some accounts, very intensely) she showed the awareness and poise it creates even when she did not expressly display yoga asana,” he wrote.
In any case, it’s one of the most compelling celebrity endorsements for yoga we’ve seen in a while.
To see the rest of the photos visit Shaw’s blog at prasanayoga.com.