Yoga in America: history, community formation, and consumerism

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2013-05

Authors

D'Orsogna, Rebecca Anne

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Abstract

This dissertation explores the ways in which various Western yoga teachers have interpreted and presented yoga to an American audience, and how media outlets have represented those yoga practices to a broader American audience between the 1890s and the 2010s. In particular, the case studies illuminate the ways in which contemporary concerns have influenced how yoga teachers and media reports have framed and responded to yoga practices. In this dissertation, I present a series of Western yoga practitioners that embody the most interesting and distinctive representations of popular understanding of yoga for their individual historical moments. Though the chapters do not reflect a linear development, recurrent discourses concerning Orientalism, post- colonialism, race, gender, sexuality, and class in the United States re-emerge in each chapter as different yoga schools respond to local and global concerns. Through these different vignettes, a trajectory of American yoga as taught and practiced by Westerners in the United States historicizes yoga in ways that are often overlooked in favor of the “timelessness” of the practice.

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