TTY 2016: yoga comes to the west

Yoga Comes to the West, pt. 2

From the time it was discovered, more than four thousand years ago Yoga was perfectly delineated, formulated and preached in India… the more ancient the writer, the more rational he is.     –-Vivekananda, 1896

Yoga has a wider range of meanings than nearly any other word in the entire Sanskrit lexicon.    — David Gordon White, 2012

This week we continue our study of Yoga in the West. Vivekananda played an important role in exporting Yoga from India and he also supported a bifurcation between what is commonly understood as meditational and postural Yoga. Thus, it is interesting that today it is not Vivekananda’s philosophical/meditational approach that is most commonly associated Yoga. How did this happen? In class we will look at the evolution of Vivekananda’s approach and several additional factors that have contributed to the form of Yoga today. In Andrea Jain’s words, “Yoga went from counterculture to pop culture.” An important question for discussion this week is: Is the Yoga practiced in the West today really Yoga?

Reading and Homework for this week:

Read Chapter 2: “From Counterculture to Counterculture” from Andrea Jain’s book Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture.

Also read this article by Mark Singleton on his study of the origins of contemporary Yoga practice.

Please prepare the following homework assignment and bring your response to class:

Explain the following quote from Jain in her conclusion.

Before its popularization, modern yoga moved from the counterculture of Indian ascetic renouncers, to the counterculture of turn-of-the-century American practitioners of tantra, to the counterculture of Transcendentalism and metaphysical religion, and to the counterculture of proponents of physical culture. (Jain, 41)

Find an example from the chapter that you find most interesting to support your response. Come to class ready to share your response and the section from the chapter (with page number and quotation) that supports your answer.

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