Magic and yoga: the role of subcultures in transcultural exchange

Newcombe, Suzanne (2013). Magic and yoga: the role of subcultures in transcultural exchange. In: Hauser, Beatrix ed. Yoga Traveling: Bodily Practice in Transcultural Perspective. Transcultural research ? Heidelberg studies on Asia and Europe in a global context. Cham: Springer, pp. 57–79.




From the perspective of modern yoga studies, magic and witchcraft have largely held the place of disinherited siblings. This chapter will explore how the development and contemporary practice of yoga in Britain overlaps and parallels the practice of magic. It will explore overlapping networks where those interested in the occult, esoteric, and non-institutional Christian religiosity and spirituality interacted, highlighting the role of Watkins Bookstore, Paul Brunton, and The Atlantis Bookstore. It will further explore the significance of literary agent Gerald Yorke who was influential in both the world of magic and that of yoga. The paper will conclude by examining the magical elements of contemporary yoga practice in terms of anti-aging, empowerment, and mythical inspirations. This paper argues that to better understand the historical development of yoga in the twentieth century or the transformative element of modern yoga practice, scholars need to take into account the continuing similarities and differences between the contemporary practice of yoga and magic

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