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Sarah Strauss

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  1. Sarah Strauss • Positioning Yoga: Balancing Acts Across Cultures • Berg, 2005

  2. Studies a particular “brand” of yoga: Sivananda. • Locates yoga practice within transnational cultural flows of ideas, practice and people.

  3. Focuses on the transnational construction yoga as dependent on the forces of colonialism, nationalism and globalization. • Looks at yoga as a practice of modernity. • Looks at shifts in how yoga has been understood and at the changing demographics of its practitioners.

  4. Yoga • Can be defined in many ways: an attitude, a philosophy, a set of practices, a way of being in the world, a religious system.

  5. Yoga • Patanjali’s (200 BC to AD 200) classical yoga is based on eight stages or limbs: • Yama, niyama (universal and personal rules for living) • Asana, pranayama (physical poses and breathing techniques) • Pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi (removal of sensory input, concentration, meditation, and enlightenment)

  6. Yoga • Means to yoke or join together = UNION • Usually refers to the union of the individual self with the Absolute or Universal Self. • Strauss uses it to refer to a broad philosophical perspective within Hinduism.

  7. Vivekananda • Yogi master who lived at the turn of the 20th century. • Distilled ancient yoga traditions into a modern form and presented it as a spiritual commodity with exchange value in the West.

  8. What are the three main reasons for yoga’s surge in popularity?

  9. 1) Shift in the orientation of yoga • Since Vivekananda presented his ideas to the West at the Parliament of the World’s Religions at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

  10. 2) Colonized peoples have used essentialized images of themselves to transform relations of colonizer-colonized. • Yoga = an indigenous strategy to reclaim Indian after centuries of colonial rule.

  11. 3) Through the recirculation of ideas and practices in globalization.