Abstract

Western yoga practitioners and academics alike have become preoccupied in recent years with the thought of modernized, Western yoga practice existing in contrast to the transcendental, “classical” yoga of the East. This has led to the assumption that somewhere beneath all the diversity and transformation of contemporary yoga there exists (presumably in India) a monolithic core of yoga philosophy and practice. But is this dichotomy accurate? Did such an untainted tradition ever exist? If so, what did it look like, and what does it look like today?

With this paper, I seek to challenge the commonly held perception that yoga in modern America is a tainted tradition, sorely distilled and dissected in relation to its Eastern counterpart. Rather, I argue that the stereotypical East versus West, spiritual versus material dichotomies related to yoga practice are a figment of popular imagination. Yoga in America is not simply a cultural product of India that underwent a linear transformation after its introduction into Western culture. Rather, it exemplifies the theory of “cultural hybridity,” undergoing perpetual and interconnected transformation in India and in the West concurrently.

First Advisor

Prof. Sunil Kukreja

Second Advisor

Prof. Elisabeth Benard

Degree Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2013

Department

Asian Studies

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