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Indian Religion and Western Yoga Practice

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Indian Religion and Western Yoga Practice

Mathew, Sacha (2011) Indian Religion and Western Yoga Practice. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Yoga has become a very recognizable feature of Western culture. Almost every person who has taken a yoga class can tell you that yoga originated in India. However, contemporary North American yoga – focused on postures and physical practice – departs considerably from “classical” yoga in India. The various yoga styles and yoga studios in North America differ with respect to their relationship to the history and tradition of yoga. My thesis seeks to understand the different ways that Indian religion – “Indian-ness” and religiosity – are expressed in yoga classes and among yoga practitioners. This thesis is a case study conducted in Montreal carried out at three studios representing three styles that one could find in almost every major North American city: Sattva Yoga Shala (Ashtanga-Vinyasa Yoga), Moksha Yoga Montreal (hot yoga) and Centre de Yoga Iyengar de Montréal (Iyengar Yoga).
At each studio I interviewed teachers and students to discover their experiences with yoga, their beliefs about benefits from practicing yoga, as well as their knowledge and relation to the tradition of yoga. Indian religious elements are present to varying degrees in North American yoga classes but both teachers and students appreciate these aspects as pleasant exoticisms that are basically inessential to their yoga practice. At the same time, students and teachers may be prone to projecting non-Indian spiritual ideas onto their yoga practice, which enhances its significance for them.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Religion
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Mathew, Sacha
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:History and Philosophy of Religion
Date:29 April 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Orr, Leslie
Keywords:yoga
ID Code:7457
Deposited By:SACHA MATHEW
Deposited On:09 Jun 2011 11:21
Last Modified:09 Jun 2011 11:21
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