Spaces of Yoga – Towards a Non-Essentialist Understanding of Yoga

Newcombe, Suzanne (2018). Spaces of Yoga – Towards a Non-Essentialist Understanding of Yoga. In: Baier, Karl; Maas, Philipp André and Preisendanz, Karin eds. Yoga in Transformation: Historical and Contemporary Perspective. Wiener Forum für Theologie und Religionswissenschaft. Göttingen: V&R University Press, pp. 551–573.




This chapter will examine some of the spaces that yoga occupies in the contemporary world, both physical and social. By looking at yoga through the focus of particular, contested spaces and locations, it will be argued that overarching essentialist definitions of yoga are impossible, although individuals and social groups can and do create essentialist definitions that are more or less useful for particular purposes. By exploring these narratives and boundaries in the context of specific locations, we can better understand what people are doing with the collection of beliefs and practices known as yoga.

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