The biological, social and material converge in the creation of yoga bodies. This panel invites submissions explore the creation of the self through this increasingly global embodied practice, with perspectives from history, material culture, medicine, religion and gender.
The global yoga business today is estimated to be worth 80 billion dollars annually. In one estimate for 2016, 10% of the American population practice yoga and 16.8 billion dollars were spent on yoga classes and accessories. Yoga's contemporary success arises from the fact that in this supposedly ancient spiritual practice the biological, social and the material converge. Yoga offers the modern practitioner a technique for managing the stresses of day-to-day life, promising transformation of the self, body and mind. The practice is also gendered, in that today's Western practitioners typically have lycra-clad female bodies, whereas yoga in its early 20th century Indian renaissance was mainly practiced by men. This panel invites submissions that explore these processes and contradictions from historical, material, medical, religious, and gendered perspectives. Topics might include: the links between yoga and health, mental health, vulnerability and empowerment; the materiality of the yoga body, as it is imagined in social media and in the consumption of goods and courses; the racialised and elitist aspects of accessing yoga; issues of cultural appropriation and claims made by modern yoga practitioners about yoga's history; the creation of lineages and schools of yoga; the role of religious and spritual practice within different yoga schools; yoga as a technique of discipline and self-creation.